New Delhi, Dec 14: The ruling UPA constituents 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.
He expressed the hope that that tomorrow's meeting would be “productive and we can reach conclusions on the amendments to the draft Lokpal bill and bring it before Parliament.
Sources said the message that came out of the meeting convened at the Prime Minister's Race Course residence was that the ruling coalition should not be seen as succumbing to the pressure of the civil society.
The Congress and its allies are understood to not opposed to bringing the PMO under the purview of the anti-corruption ombudsman with adequate safeguards on matters relating to internal security and external relations.
It was also felt that an appropriate mechanism should be worked out to bringing Group C and D employees under the ambit of Lokpal.
Government is also not opposed to further discussions on the demand for bringing the anti-corruption wing of CBI within the purview of the Lokpal Bill, the sources said.
RLD leader Ajit Singh, who joined UPA yesterday, was among those who attended the meeting.
Among those present at the meeting were Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Chairman of the Parliament Standing Committee on Law and Personnel Abhishek Singhvi and Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy.
The Prime Minister discussed the Lopal Bill with Gandhi and top Congress leaders and ministerial colleagues in the Core Group before the meeting with UPA allies.
The BJP Parliamentary Party met today under the chairmanship of L K 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 consultations with other parties in case the government does not accept its proposals.
At the UPA meeting, Singhvi is understood to have briefed the leaders about the prons and cons of various issues concerning the measure.
Ahead of the meeting, Congress had called upon all the parties within the UPA and outside to sit together and try to evolve a political consensus.
The Lokpal bill is expected to come up for consideration in the Lok Sabha on December 20, two days ahead of the conclusion of the current session of Parliament, amid the looming threat of hunger strike by Anna Hazare.