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Cong to discuss lokpal today

delhi Updated: Jul 08, 2011 00:58 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi

Buoyed by the outcome of the all-party meeting on lokpal bill, the Congress core group will meet on Friday to formalise the party's stand on the issue. The party is upbeat over the fact that the debate on lokpal (ombudsman) has now shifted to the political domain and is no longer a government versus civil society issue.

Though the all-party meeting saw consensus on a strong lokpal bill, the ruling party seemed to have succeeded in rallying around the political class on the issue of parliamentary supremacy in drafting and making laws.

But there was no consensus on the scope and ambit of the lokpal. Most parties did not offer any views on contentious issues such as the lokpal's jurisdiction over the Prime Minister (PM), higher judiciary and conduct of MPs in parliament.

On its part, the Congress has maintained that it would support the government's stand on the highly publicised legislation.

However, the party last week said it was opposed to bringing the PM and the higher judiciary under the lokpal. Arguing that the inclusion of the PM would entail inherent instability in democratic and parliamentary governance, the Congress said it was not opposed to action against the individual after demitting office.

The Congress brass will now have to devise a strategy on how to deal with a virtually combined opposition demanding the PM’s inclusion in the lokpal.

With the government having already committed itself to introducing the bill — a political hot potato in the monsoon session beginning next month —- the Congress core committee will have to work out the contours of the most anticipated legislation.

But what could complicate matters for the Congress is that the law ministry's draft bill of 2010 had brought the PM under the lokpal purview, with riders.