In a decisive indication of flexibility, the government and Anna Hazare’s team pulled the lokpal talks back from the brink on Monday.
Though differences on the six key issues persisted even after the three-hour-long meeting and there were fresh differences on the government’s proposals on selecting and removing lokpal members, the two sides will exchange their drafts when they meet for the last time on Tuesday.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened a meeting of UPA leaders on Tuesday to ascertain the views of the alliance partners on the bill.
HT has learnt that the government draft will include allowing the lokpal to receive complaints against prime minister, though investigations may be conducted once he demits office.
The government also decided to allow a separate investigating wing for the lokpal. “Till the time the lokpal sets up an investigating arm, the government is ready to ask the CBI to probe complaints,” said a source.
The government is also ready to allow financial autonomy for the lokpal’s functioning.
The first of the two fresh issues of contention are: while Hazare’s draft provided for an independent and broad-based selection panel for the appointment of the 11 lokpal members, the government proposed a majority of politicians in the committee.
One of the members of Hazare’s team, Prashant Bhushan, said, “The appointment of the lokpal will then be under their (the politicians) direct control though they will be the ones the ombudsman will probe.”
Secondly, on the procedure for removing any one of the 11 members, Bhushan said the government wanted the sole right to move the Supreme Court. But Team Hazare insisted that any citizen may do so.
The government put the consensus level with the civil society at “80-85%”, while Hazare's team estimated a “60-70%” level. But the activists made it clear that major issues of divergence had not been resolved. Telecom minister Kapil Sibal said, “On a range of issues, there is a broad agreement. Both sides feel they should move towards a consensus to formulate a draft where the divergences are spelt out when it goes to political parties sometime in July.”
“The agreement was on minor issues. Differences persisted on issues like bringing the prime minister, higher judiciary and the conduct of MPs inside Parliament under the lokpal,”said Bhushan.