Sehore (MP)/New Delhi: With Baba Ramdev opposing demands for inclusion of Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India in the Lokpal Bill, differences in the civil society came to the fore on Tuesday, even as Manmohan Singh reached out to him for not going ahead with his indefinite fast. "The posts of Prime Minister and CJI are highly dignified and should not come under the ambit of the Lokpal Bill," he told reporters in Sehore, a day after Hazare and four of his associates pressed for inclusion of the Prime Minister and higher judiciary in the proposed law. (JPN/Agencies)
Simultaneously, the government also wrote to all Chief Ministers and leaders of political parties eliciting their views on issues including whether to bring the Prime Minister and higher judiciary under Lokpal.
The yoga guru, with whom Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and top officials are in discussion in a bid to persuade him to call off his proposed fast against corruption, broke ranks with Anna Hazare-led activists.
The two posts are dignified and unnecessary public comments about them are not good, he said adding if the CJI cannot do his job properly, then how one could expect the Lokpal to do it.
Hazare team campaigner Arvind Kejriwal, one of the members of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill, sought to play down the differences they would try to convince Ramdev on the issue of the Prime Minister and judiciary because he may not be aware of all aspects of the issues.
Singh appeals to Ramdev to call off fast
Apparently worried over fallout during a similar protest led by Hazare last month, the Singh on Tuesday wrote to Ramdev asking him not to go ahead with his hunger strike from June 4.
"This is not a personal issue. We all agree with Ramdev that corruption is a big problem and that we are committed to tackling it with all the resources at our disposal," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Singh also assured the yoga guru that the government was "eager to work with you and members of civil society towards building just and prosperous India".
Informing Ramdev that the Finance Minister and his officers would continue to have discussions with him on the issues that he has raised, Singh hoped in the letter that "you will now reverse your decision to go on a hunger strike unto death".
"We will work with Ramdev earnestly in finding a practical and pragmatic solution to the problem. The question is what is possible way and what is feasible. There are laws", Singh said.
"We hope Ramdev will recognise that we are sincere and serious about tackling corruption," the Prime Minister said, adding that the government has taken steps.
However, Ramdev, who lent support to Anna Hazare in his campaign against corruption when he went on a fast in Jantar Mantar, refused to call off his own fast from June 4 till government conceded all his demands.
At a press conference, Home Minister P Chidambaram said Mukherjee and his ministry officials were in discussions with Ramdev and one should wait for the results before discussions can take place on it.
BJP ups pressure, Congress silent
Upping its ante, BJP asked the Prime Minister to take a serious note of Ramdev's protest and immediately putting in place an effective mechanism to get back the ill-gotten wealth.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, BJP president Nitin Gadkari said bringing back Indian black money kept in tax havens abroad was on the agenda of both the Congress and BJP-led alliances during the 2009 general elections.
Congress maintained an enigmatic silence over Ramdev's proposed agitation on the blackmoney issue from June 4 and the government's decision to persuade him to postpone his protest.
"We have to nothing to say on Baba Ramdev," was the only refrain of party spokesperson Manish Tewari to a volley of questions on the issue.
The party's reaction to Ramdev's agitation is in contrast to its earlier response when Anna Hazare had sat on a fast-unto-death last month with even party President Sonia Gandhi appealing to him to withdraw his fast.
Bill in Monsoon session
A day after civil society activists on the Joint Drafting Committee on the Bill threatened to take to streets, Home Minister P Chidambaram and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal addressed a press conference to make it clear that the government was committed to bringing a Bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament.
Centre writes to CMs, political parties
Parallely, the government also moved in by writing to Chief Ministers and leaders of political parties seeking their views on various issues, including whether Prime Minister and higher judiciary should be part of Lokpal Bill.
Chief Ministers and political parties have also been asked to give their opinion on whether the conduct of MPs inside Parliament -- speaking or voting in the House – be brought under the purview of Lokpal as they are protected under the Constitution.
Sibal, one of the members of the Committee, said "we are against any change in the Constitution provision relating to this".
The replies have been sought by June 6, both the Ministers said expressing confidence that the Bill would be ready before June 30, dispelling apprehension of Hazare that it would not be ready before the promised date.
Sehore (MP)/New Delhi: With Baba Ramdev opposing demands for inclusion of Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India in the Lokpal Bill, differences in the civil society came to the fore on Tuesday, even as Manmohan Singh reached out to him for not going ahead with his indefinite fast.
"The posts of Prime Minister and CJI are highly dignified and should not come under the ambit of the Lokpal Bill," he told reporters in Sehore, a day after Hazare and four of his associates pressed for inclusion of the Prime Minister and higher judiciary in the proposed law.