New Delhi: With Congress coming under attack over criticism of Civil Society members, the Central Government on Friday said controversies will not affect working of the joint committee for drafting the Lokpal Bill.

After a meeting of Congress' Core Group headed by party chief Sonia Gandhi and attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said government will work with the Civil Society representatives in the panel to prepare a "strong and sound" anti-corruption legislation.

"Controversies have been raised about members of the joint committee on the Lokpal Bill. I would like to make it clear that the view of government as also the view of party, the Congress, the working of Lokpal Bill drafting panel won't be affected by these controversies.

Mukherjee's remarks came after a 90-minute meeting of the Core Group that discussed the issues threadbare.

Hazare had written a letter to Gandhi early this week alleging a smear campaign by some Congress leaders and sought to know whether the exercise had her sanction. Replying to it, Gandhi had said her party did not support any kind of smear campaign and was committed to rooting out corruption.

Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh is in the thick of a controversy over remarks on the Lokpal committee members--lawyers Shanti and Prashant Bhushan and Justice Santosh Hegde.

The Congress general secretary, who has raised questions over Shanti Bhushan and his son getting land in Noida and alleged evasion of stamp duty in Allahabad, said the party or the government had no objection to their continuance in the committee but left it to their conscience whether they should remain in it.

He also said he had at no time attacked Justice Hegde but only raised a question that if the best Lokayukta in Karnataka cannot stop "rampant corruption" in the state then a serious thought should be given to the system.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati also waded into the controversy and virtually demanded resignation of the Bhushans from the drafting panel.

"The committee should distance itself from those whose integrity is doubted," she said, without taking names in the wake of the CD controversy involving lawyer Shanti Bhushan and property allotments to him.

Draft to be ready by June 30: Moily

Meanwhile, Union Law Minister M Veerappa on Thursday said the government intends to complete the draft of the Lokpal Bill by June 30 and table it in the monsoon session of Parliament.

With allegations levelled against some Civil Society members of the joint committee on the Lokpal Bill, Moily said, "we should not give more credence to such allegations. Arguments and counter-arguments should not dilute such an important step".

To another question, Moily said the draft bill would be formulated by all the members of the joint committee. "All their views will be taken into account and the bill will be formulated through a consensus".

He said even though social activist Anna Hazare did not indicate the deadline for drafting the Lokpal Bill, "suo moto we want to complete it (drafting) by June 30 and we aim to introduce the bill in the monsoon session of Parliament".

JPN/Agencies