New Delhi: Consensus eluded the all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday night on Lokpal with parties voicing divergent views on some key elements like inclusion of CBI and lower bureaucracy.

However, after the four-hour meeting, questions arose on whether the bill would be passed in the current session of the Parliament ending December 22, with a number of parties asking the government not to take any decision in haste on a matter having far-reaching implications.

There were suggestions that a special session of the Parliament could be convened to allow time to evolve consensus, sources said.

Consensus could not be reached at the meeting even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought cooperation of political parties to ensure passage of the "momentous" bill during the current session.

He said the Bill should not become a subject of party politics as the government was keen to get it passed in the Parliament based on consensus that is driven by the House as the "custodian of legislation".

Seeking "guidance and cooperation in this matter of paramount importance", Singh said, "I am personally keen that this momentous legislation should be passed on the basis of consensus among all parties as far as possible and that this should not be subjected to party politics in any way."

The meeting saw divergent views being aired by leaders of the parties, with the BJP pitching for inclusion of Group C and D employees under the Lokpal, a stand staunchly opposed by CPI.

The BJP and other opposition parties also demanded that CBI's investigative wing should come under Lokpal.

However, both the Left and Right were on the same page with regard to inclusion of PM under the Lokpal.

Parliament's consensus vital for Lokpal: PM

As he met leaders of various political parties, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said he was keen to see the "momentous" Lokpal Bill passed during the current session of Parliament based on a consensus that is driven by the House as the "custodian of legislation".
    
"The government is committed to implement in letter and spirit a good and effective Lokpal Bill that would have a quick and positive impact in further curbing the cancer of corruption without any adverse effects on the efficiency of our system of public administration," he said in his opening remarks at the all-party meet.
    
Seeking "guidance and cooperation in this matter of paramount importance", Singh said the Lokpal Bill issue should not be subjected to party politics.
    
"I am personally keen that this momentous legislation should be passed on the basis of consensus among all parties as far as possible and that this should not be subjected to party politics in any way," he said.
    
Asking everyone to "keep the interests of the country foremost in our minds", he said "the government is also keen that we must make all efforts to pass a Lokpal Bill in this very session that is based on consensus and that is driven by Parliament as the custodian of legislation."
    
He wanted leaders of the parties to indicate how far the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee meet the sense of Parliament and how far the various provisions are feasible and efficacious.

The Prime Minister said the Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel, which examined the Lokpal Bill, had done "very valuable work in record time" for which he thanked its Chairman Abhishek Singhvi and his colleagues.
    
He reminded the leaders of the political parties about the full discussion that took place in Parliament before the draft Lokpal Bill was referred to the Standing Committee.
    
Based on that discussion, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had made a statement on the same day in both the Houses of Parliament about the "sense" of the two Houses, Singh said.
    
He also noted that he had, in his letter of August 27, requested Anna Hazare to end his fast.
   
"I had said that Parliament had agreed in principle on three matters. These were the Citizen's Charter, the inclusion of lower bureaucracy under the Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism and the establishment of Lokayukta in the states," he recalled.
    
The sense of the Houses and the records of discussions in Parliament had then been conveyed to the Standing Committee for their guidance, he said.


CVC, CBI chiefs meet PM

Concerned over the present form of the proposed anti-corruption bill, the heads of CVC and CBI met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss various issues.

In the meeting, Central Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar and CBI Director AP Singh raised concerns over anti-corruption bill and sought its redressal.

According to sources, the CBI Director had earlier expressed his displeasure with the Ministry of Personnel on the recommendations made by the Standing Committee. Even Kumar had objected to the proposed inclusion of 'Group C' employees comprising clerical staff under the Lokpal ambit, added sources.

"The CVC directly advises action in vigilance matters related to Group A and B employees. Whereas, it supervises the proceedings by concerned departments in matters related to employees under Group C and D. The group C employees are overall supervision of the Commission. The proposals to have their direct control will require more manpower and official resources. The Commission in its present form may have difficulty in dealing with it," a source said.

Sources said that there may be conflict of interest between CVC and Lokpal as both will have powers to probe any complaints of corruption involving Central government officials including those working in banks and public sectors.

"There has to be a proper division of work between the CVC and the Lokpal. The powers of two bodies should not be made contradictory to hamper probe in corruption cases," the official said.

Whereas, the country's premier investigating agency has expressed unhappiness over many issues related to the Lokpal saying many of the clauses would severely impair the functioning of the investigating agency.Agencies

(JPN/ Agencies/ Bureau)