'United' UPA set to face 'firm' Oppn at all-party meet
The ruling UPA constituents are understood to have broadly agreed on including the office of the PM within the ambit of the Lokpal Bill with some safeguards, as pressure mounted on the govt to widen the scope of the proposed bill. Govt clears three anti-graft bills | The road ahead | Hazare wants Mamata to put in a good word on Lokpaldelhi Updated: Dec 14, 2011 16:11 IST
With Team Anna signalling another confrontation on the Lokpal Bill and threatening to campaign against the Congress in the forthcoming assembly polls, the government convened an all-party meeting on Wednesday on the long-debated legislation that is slated to be taken up for passage in Parliament's winter session.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the all-party meeting at his official 7, Race Course Road residence on Wednesday to attempt a consensus on the bill.
The ruling UPA constituents, however, are understood to have broadly agreed on including the office of the Prime Minister within the ambit of the Lokpal Bill with some safeguards, as pressure mounted on the Government to widen the scope of the proposed legislation.
Sources said after the two-hour meeting on Tuesday night that the allies conveyed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi that they will stand behind the Government on any decision on the vexed Lokpal issue.
A "broad consensus" was reported on the approach to the Lokpal Bill during the consultations held by Singh on the eve of the all-party meeting on the issue.
Briefing mediapersons, Home Minister P Chidambaram said leaders of all parties expressed their views and discussions were "very fruitful" and "very extensive" on the issue.
"Parties discussed the (Parliamentary) Standing Committee report on the Lokpal. The parties discussed the approach for the all-party meeting tomorrow. They will express their views in the meeting tomorrow," he said.
"There is a broad consensus in the UPA-II on the approach to the Lokpal," Chidambaram said.
Government is under intense pressure from political parties to include the office of Prime Minister, Group C and D employees and the anti-corruption wing of CBI within the purview of the Lokpal Bill.
Ahead of the all-party meeting on the Lokpal bill convened by the PM in New Delhi on Wednesday, parties including BJP, the Left and BSP made their position clear on the issue which they said will pursue at the meeting.
However, thr government has given indications that it may not not be averse to the inclusion of Prime Minister within the ambit of the ombudsman.
The BJP Parliamentary Party also met on Tuesday under the chairmanship of LK Advani and decided to press for the inclusion of Prime Minister, lower bureaucracy and Citizens' Charter under Lokpal at the all-party meeting tomorrow.
It also decided to move amendments in the Bill after consultation with other parties in case the government does not accept its proposals.
"The government has called an all-party meeting to discuss the nitty gritty of the Lokpal Bill. Our members have already given a dissent note before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Lokpal Bill.
"We will press for that in tomorrow's meeting. If they don't agree, then we will try and bring amendment in the Lokpal Bill after consultation with other political parties," BJP leader S S Ahluwalia told reporters after the meeting.
In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati accused the Congress of being soft on corruption and demanded that the Prime Minister, CBI, Group C and D employees be brought under the ambit of Lokpal.
She said her party would oppose the bill in its present form both at the's meeting and in Parliament.
Citing the Commonwealth, 2G and Adarsh Society scams, she said that Congress' "lackadaisical policy indicates that it does not want to create a strong mechanism against corruption as maximum leaders and ministers of that party would be affected".
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters that the Lokpal to be strong and effective should include the Prime Minister, CBI's anti-corruption wing and inclusion of lower bureaucracy within the purview of the Bill.
(With inputs from PTI, IANS)