In the cabinet meeting on the lokpal bill on Thursday finance minister Pranab Mukherjee snapped at rural development minister Jairam Ramesh for wanting to include the PM in the ambit of the Bill.
Sources said, Ramesh argued that PM's inclusion will enhance the image of the UPA. He also said it will add to the government's strong message in its fight against corruption.
An irked Mukherjee, who had strongly favoured PM's exemption, said the image of the government is built on its work and not PM's inclusion in the lokpal.
Sources said, Trinamool Congress representative — railway minister Dinesh Trivedi — suggested his party has no problem if the PM is brought under lokpal. But he clarified that his party will abide by the decision of the government.Agriculture minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar supported the draft. DMK had earlier publicly demanded the PM's inclusion but its sole cabinet minister MK Alagiri remained absent.
"Almost all ministers present at the meeting spoke on the issue. Ministers expressed their views but eventually everyone will follow the party line," said a minister.
At the beginning of the cabinet discussion on the anti-corruption bill, Singh offered
to bring himself under the watchdog. He then asked Mukherjee to give the initial briefing on the bill to the cabinet. The finance minister explained the provisions of the bill and clarified why the government can't accept various demands of the civil society including bringing the PM under the purview of the lokpal.
"The cabinet felt there should not be a situation where the government stops functioning," law minister Salman Khursheed said.