PM within Lokpal Ambit? Govt to decide
New Delhi June 18:
The Congress core committee met here to discuss the deadlock in negotiations with civil society members on the Lokpal Bill, including their demand for inclusion of the Prime Minister in the ambit of the proposed ombudsman.
Party sources said the meeting, which took place at the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also discussed demand from Congress leaders in Telangana for a separate state. The meeting was attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister AK Antony and Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president.
The sources said the committee felt that the issue of inclusion of Prime Minister in the Lokpal should be discussed in the cabinet as views of allies of Congress should be taken on board. They said the meeting looked at the stance of the government in the talks with Team Hazare on the Lokpal Bill. The two sides have accused each other of adopting hardline approach in the talks.
Anna Hazare has said that he will resume his fast for a strong Lokpal Bill on August 16. The government has already announced that it will come up with a draft bill by June 30 and, if necessary, send two versions for consideration of the cabinet. The joint drafting committee has decided to meet again next week.
Congress sources said the meeting also took stock of the government's handling of the anti-corruption agitation by Baba Ramdev and the affidavit filed by Delhi Police in the Supreme Court on action against his supporters. The yoga guru ended his nine-day fast Sunday in Haridwar. With all its leaders in Telangana putting sustained pressure for a separate state, the core committee also discussed the demand.
Mukherjee had assured a delegation of Telangana leaders including ministers, MPs and legislators that he would put their views to Sonia Gandhi after she returns from her visit abroad. Earlier in the day, party leader Janardan Dwivedi had asked the Bhartiya Janata Party to state its position on the contentious issues in the Lokpal bill.
"You tell what kind of system you want. You should keep it before people. Otherwise you should not call yourself a big party," Dwivedi said. Attacking the BJP, he said the opposition party was in the habit of leaving its core issues to get wider electoral support.