New Delhi, Jun 18 : Government today said it will discuss the draft Lokpal Bill with political parties before sending it to the Union Cabinet for approval.
With the issue of bringing Prime Minister within the ambit of the Lokpal remaining a ticklish affair, Government is expected to soon call an all-party meeting to seek views across the political spectrum.
This became clear today after a meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi had with top party leaders favouring such parleys against the backdrop of widening differences between the government and the civil society representatives led by Anna Hazare on the issue.
Grappling with the issue and other sensitive matters like Telangana, the Congress Core Group headed by Gandhi met for today, the second meeting coming just after its two-hour long deliberations last night. Today's meeting also discussed Telangana problem.
The Hazare camp is pitching for inclusion of Prime Minister as also higher judiciary in the proposed Lokpal bill during meetings of the Joint Committee to draft the measure which will now be meeting on June 20 and 21.
Government is prima facie opposed to the inclusion of Prime Minister within the ambit of Lokpal but was open to the idea of covering him once he demits office.
HRD Minister Sibal today said,”within the government, we feel prima facie, the Prime Minister should not be covered (under the Lokpal). But at the same time we want to make sure that if he demits office, he should not be exonerated from prosecution.”
Sibal said the government will also seek the opinion of Chief Ministers on the draft prepared by the joint committee on Lokpal consisting of five ministers and as many members from the civil society.
“The government will seek the views of political parties on the draft bill before it goes to the Cabinet. Whatever agreements or disagreements on the draft are there will be presented before parties,” he told Doordarshan.
Explaining the course the bill will go through after the Cabinet nod, Sibal said it will be introduced in Parliament, which could decide to send the bill to a Standing Committee.
He said the issue of tackling corruption was important and the government does not consider that the civil society did anything wrong by highlighting it. While crediting the civil society for its efforts on an effective Lokpal, Sibal said it was not possible to accept all their demands.
Sibal, who is part of the government team in the joint drafting committee, sought to attack Gandhian Anna Hazare for not launching any agitation against Gujarat government where there is no institution of Lokayukta or Karnataka where Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa is facing allegations of corruption.
“Why does Hazare not launch a fast in Gujarat where there is no Lokayukta. In Karnataka also, he should launch a fast,” Sibal said. PTI