New Delhi, June 24: The Anna Hazare team today met senior BJP leader L K Advani and CPI leader A B Bardhan, launching their initiative to reach out to political parties to drum up support for their version of the Lokpal Bill ahead of the July 3 all-party meeting.
Civil society activists Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia called on Advani this morning to discuss the Lokpal Bill and briefed him about the proposed legislation.
BJP sources said Advani maintained that his party was very much in favour of an effective Lokpal but a more fruitful meeting could take place with civil society activists only when his colleagues—Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, her counterpart in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and party president Nitin Gadkari return to the capital. Advani, however, suggested that the BJP top brass and Anna's team should meet once before the July 3 all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the Lokpal Bill.
“The meeting was very encouraging. Advani told us that the country needs an effective Lokpal. He heard us and requested us that we make a detailed presentation before senior BJP leaders,” Bedi told PTI after the meeting. Though BJP is “looking into” all aspects of the Lokpal Bill - including the drafts prepared by Anna's team and the government - it will air its views on the issue only after listening to the UPA regime's arguments at the all-party meet. In his meeting with Anna's team today, Bardhan sought some clarifications on their draft Bill.
“He had some doubts about the legal aspects of the office of Lokpal. We have decided to meet again to clear his doubts,” Sisodia said.
Sisodia said Hazare and others will take part in the deliberations with top BJP leaders next week. The Anna camp said they were not looking for assurances from the party at this point as they wanted only to put across their views and brief Advani about it.
This was the second meeting between Anna's team and Advani. The civil society activists had taken a similar initiative to meet political leaders before Anna Hazare sat on his indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar in April.
BJP sources said the party has been forming a view on the Lokpal Bill but since its opinion was not sought by the government it would express them in Parliament when the Bill is brought for passage.
“There have been a lot of in-house discussions on the Lokpal Bill. Issues like whether the Prime Minister should come under its ambit, whether the CBI, CVC and higher judiciary should fall within its jurisdiction have been debated,” a senior party leader said.
Though former Prime Minister and BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said he was not averse to the Prime Minister coming under the ambit of Lokpal, the BJP is reportedly in two minds on the issue.
The BJP is wary that frivolous charges can be levelled against the Prime Minister to the Lokpal. Moreover, some aspects of governance and decision-making by the Prime Minister cannot be brought in the public domain and so should not be brought under the Lokpal.
Anna's team plans to meet leaders from all political parties. They feel the government version of the ombudsman is for targeting those who complain against the menace.
The Hazare team felt that the exclusion of a large chunk of the bureaucracy from the ambit of Lokpal and the provision to hear officials accused of corruption before filing of case and charge sheet were not proper. PTI