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No bitterness, 80% consensus on lokpal bill, says Sibal

Government claims major step forward in building consensus on the anti-corruption watchdog bill but differences with civil society members on Prime Minister's post remains. Meeting of the lokpal drafting panel goes off smoothly.

delhi Updated: Jun 20, 2011 15:25 IST

Terming the meeting between the government and civil society representatives on the proposed lokpal bill a "major breakthrough", human resource development minister Kapil Sibal on Monday said there has been a "broad consensus" between the two sides.

"We had a meeting of three hours, between 11am to 2pm and had full-fledged discussions on a range of issues. There was a frank exchange of views and there has been a broad consensus," Sibal told reporters after the eighth meeting between the two sides.

"This has been a major breakthrough," he added.

Saying that the atmosphere of the meeting was "non-acrimonious", Sibal added: "We were clear about the diversions and disagreements. Almost on 80-85% clauses of the bill, there is agreement."

Another meeting is scheduled on Tuesday. There are five representatives each from the government and the civil society in the committee that was set up in April to frame a comprehensive lokpal bill to fight corruption in high places.

From bonhomie at the start, the two sides have got locked in a war of words in recent weeks over various issues including whether or not to bring the prime minister within the ambit of the lokpal.

Besides Hazare and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, other civil society activists on the panel are Arvind Kejriwal, Santosh Hegde and Shanti Bhushan.

The government is represented by cabinet ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, M Veerappa Moily, Salman Khurshid and Sibal.

(With inputs from IANS)

First Published: Jun 20, 2011 14:16 IST