As the all-party meet called by the government on Sunday, to elicit the views of political parties on contentious issues relating to the proposed lokpal bill approaches, the BJP seems in no mood to reveal its cards and share part of the government’s blame for blocking a “strong” law against corruption.
“We will give our opinion on contentious issues like inclusion of PM, higher judiciary, officials and conduct of MPs in Parliament only when we hear the official government view...,” a senior BJP leader said.
NDA convenor Sharad Yadav of JD(U) told HT the alliance will decide on Saturday whether to attend the all-party meet slated for Sunday. On Friday, members of the Anna Hazare team will meet senior BJP leaders including LK Advani to present their viewpoint. BJP sources said the party is also in touch with non-NDA opposition parties.
The BJP has subtly changed its position to ensure that it is the government that solely faces civil society brickbats for “blocking” a strong Lokpal. At the same time, it has fully backed Ramdev and Anna Hazare’s attacks on the government from the sidelines. Aware that opposition parties are likely to be on the same page as the government on some contentious issues, the latter has repeatedly tried to make opposition parties spell out their views.
When finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had written to political parties for their views on issues like inclusion of the PM, higher judiciary and MPs’ conduct in Parliament, Gadkari had asked for the final proposal to be sent for their views.
Now that the stage has arrived, Gadkari has nuanced his position: “The procedure is that bills are placed by the government in Parliament and then the opposition reacts. We will respond in Parliament.”
Privately, some BJP leaders admit that including the higher judiciary or MPs’ conduct inside House within the Lokpal would create problems. “Will MPs keep battling defamation suits for expressing their free opinion in Parliament?” asked a leader.
DMK: PM must be under Lokpal
DMK patriarch and former Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi on Thursday reiterated that the Prime Minister must be brought under the purview of the lokpal bill. He said the DMK was clear on its stand that PM should be included in the ambit of the proposed bill. In the 1970s, he said, his government had enacted a law that brought under its ambit the chief minister. Manmohan Singh himself has said he was not against including the PM’s office under the Lokpal. HTC, Chennai