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Team Anna Reaches Out To BJP, Finds Favour

New Delhi, Aug 26 : Ahead of the debate on Jan Lokpal Bill in Lok Sabha tomorrow, Anna Hazare team tonight reached out to BJP which said a solution to the impasse could be found
PTI August 26, 2011 11:26 IST

New Delhi, Aug 26 : Ahead of the debate on Jan Lokpal Bill in Lok Sabha tomorrow, Anna Hazare team tonight reached out to BJP which said a solution to the impasse could be found in consonance with the Constitution if the government has a “constructive” attitude.

Hazare's associates Arvind Kejriwal, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi met senior BJP leaders L K Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari for over three hours explaining their version of the Lokpal Bill and gave “clarifications” on aspects over which the Opposition party had “doubts”.

“We discussed how a solution could be found while preserving the prestige of Parliament and Constitution,” Jaitley told reporters later.

He said the civil society representatives agreed that a solution should be in consonance with the Constitution, he said, adding the rest depends on whether the government has a “positive” and constructive” approach.

If government “sincerely” approaches the issue, a solution should not be difficult, the BJP leader said. He said the Hazare team had given clarifications to the BJP leaders on various aspects over which they had “doubts”. Regarding questions over whether Prime Minister should be brought under the purview of Lokpal, Jaitley said the BJP had clarified its position on July 4 that he should be included. With regard to higher judiciary, he said the BJP favoured a separate commission.

The team Hazare said while they were waiting for government's response on its demands, the main Opposition “broadly agreed” with their version of the anti-graft legislation.

Prashant Bhushan said he hoped that the resolution to be moved in Lok Sabha tomorrow would be “clear” enough and would include the three vital issues raised by them so that Hazare could end his fast.

On meeting with BJP leaders, Kejriwal said, “it appears, they agreed on almost all aspects of the Jan Lokpal Bill.” With regard to higher judiciary, he said the Hazare team had no objection to bringing of separate Judicial Accountability Bill and setting up Judicial Accountability Commission.

Bhushan said the Commission should be independent of the judiciary and government and have powers to investigate corruption in judiciary which is not provided for in the government's present bill.

The present bill only deals with misconduct within judiciary and riddled with conflict of interest, he said.

Gadkari, BJP President, said his party was committed to ridding the country of corruption and was in agreement with Team Anna on several issues.He described the talks with Team Anna as “positive and very good”.“We do not want to take political mileage out of the Lokpal issue. A common solution should be found from the reasonable issues being raised by Hazare's team,” Gadkari said.

BJP reasoned with Team Anna that the lower bureaucracy-which runs into crores- cannot be brought under the Lokpal as it is against the federal norms. Moreover, they cannot be brought in the ambit of Lokpal as they enjoy immunity under Article 311 of the Constitution.

Similarly, the Jan Lokpal Bill's demand for bringing conduct of MPs inside Parliament cannot come under Lokpal's purview under Article 105 which gives them immunity.Sources said Team Anna is ready to see reason in these arguments.

Both Team Anna and BJP are now waiting for the clause under which the government holds the discussion in Parliament on Lokpal issue and how the Jan Lokpal Bill, Aruna Roy's draft and JP Narayan's paper on Lokpal are sent to the Standing Committee of Parliament.

Till late tonight, the government had not discussed the wording of the resolution to be placed in Parliament and the route it is going to take to incorporate provisions of the various Bills.

One option reportedly being explored is that it will be done through a private members' Bill.“This whole issue is unprecedented and there is yet no clarity on how it will be worked out,” a senior leader said. PTI