New Delhi, Aug 20 : Affirming that there was a “lot of scope for give and take” on the Lokpal Bill, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that the government was open to “discussion and dialogue” on the issue.
Calling for a broad national consensus on the controversial issue, Singh expressed the hope that the government can enlist the cooperation of “all thinking segments of Indian public opinion to ensure that the end product is a strong and effective Lokpal which all sections of our community want”.
The Prime Minister was answering questions from the media at the conclusion of the full meeting of the Planning Commission at his residence to approve the Approach Paper of the 12th Five Year Plan.
Singh said the government has presented a Lokpal Bill which was the demand of all political parties when he had convened an all party conference on the issue. “They said we cannot give you our viewpoint unless and until you come out with a draft. We have fulfilled that obligation.
“But we are open to discussion and dialogue. We like a broad national consensus to emerge. We are all in favour of a Lokpal, which is strong and which is effective,” he said.
Asked about Anna Hazare's demand that the Jan Lokpal should be passed by Parliament by August 30, the Prime Minister said, “well, clearly I think there are difficulties. It is a logic of the legislative process.” He said certain stages have to be crossed and “I would not not like to say or controvert anything else that has been said by somebody else.”
But, Singh said, he hoped that people will appreciate that there is a dynamic of the legislative process which takes time sometimes.
“But we must all work together to push forward the case for a strong effective Lokpal and whatever obstacles that come in the way should be removed. There should be a commitment which all segments of political parties must honour and work towards it,” he said.
Meanwhile, amid demands that the Jan Lokpal bill be passed by August 30, the Parliamentary Committee going into the Lokpal Bill today said that “no time limit can be accurately specified” for giving the report except that the reference to the panel initially is for three months.
“No time limit can be accurately specified except that the reference to us initially is for three months”, Abhishek Singhvi, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, told PTI.
Singhvi, a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha and a senior advocate, steered clear of any reaction over the demands in connection with the Lokpal bill. “I do not wish to comment on views of others. All I can say it that this multi-party committee resembling a mini-Parliament will assiduously look into every aspect with a completely open mind”, he said.
The process includes invitation of diverse views in writing, examination of witness evidence and detailed confidential deliberations, he said.
Singhvi declined to comment on Team Anna's demand for early introduction of Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament and their contention that government can get it passed in days if it has the will.
“This is a matter for the government to decide and there is no question of my comment on it”, Singhvi said. Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has set August 30 as the deadline for Parliament to pass the bill. Soon after the bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 4, the Rajya Sabha Chairman has referred it to the Committee and given it three months to give recommendations. PTI