New Delhi: Disappointed over the model of Lokpal proposed in the government's draft bill, Anna Hazare team on Tuesday called it a symbolic attempt by the Centre to install an authority in the name of the Bill. JPN/Agencies
Disagreeing on major fronts, the joint drafting committee met for the last time amid "fresh and serious" differences between the government and Anna Hazare team.
The ninth and final meeting was held at the office of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, chairman of the drafting committee. Except for Home Minister P Chidambaram, who is in Jammu and Kashmir, all the other nine members attended the meeting.
Fresh differences were added to the already existing list of six over the constitution of selection panel. The differences between the two sides remain on inclusion of Prime Minister within the ambit of the Bill as also the higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside the House, funding model, CBI under Lokpal and Lokayuktas in state.
‘Differences persist on 6 issues’
"We have differences over six issues earlier. Now two more added to the list," said activist Arvind Kejriwal. Both the camps had termed Monday’s meeting as "very cordial" but added differences remained on contentious issues.
Asked about the previous meetings of the Lokpal drafting committee, he said they had a feeling that the decisions of the government side were "pre-decided". However, he said the silver lining was that they were able to hold a country-wide discussion about Lokpal.
Also criticising the decision to exclude CBI from the ambit of RTI, Kejriwal accused the government of not bringing it under an independent Lokpal to "arm twist" political leaders opposed to it.
Ahead of the final meeting of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill, Kejriwal told reporters that it appears that whenever the government was in trouble, it will "send CBI after politicians like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati".
"The government is interested in keeping the CBI as a dishonest agency so that it can arm twist opponents and scuttle any investigation against their own people," Kejriwal, who is one of the ten members of the committee, said.
Difficult to satisfy all: Khurshid
Union Minister Salman Khurshid, who is a member of the joint drafting committee on the Lokpal Bill, said efforts are on to make a "strong" legislation which can satisfy "majority" of the people.
"There is nothing which can satisfy the whole society but we are trying to come up with something that satisfies the majority of the people," he told reporters.
Asked if the issues between the Civil Society and the Government have been sorted out, the Minister said, "We have no complaints”. We are talking and want a good and strong Lokpal Bill to be presented before the public."
On whether the divergent views of the Civil Society members on the Bill would go to the Cabinet as a 'dissent note', Khurshid said, "No dissent note will be given. Wherever there is divergence, we have said the alternative formulation given by them will be sent to the Cabinet.
"One Bill, wherever there are common areas, we both will endorse it. Wherever there is difference of opinion, alternative opinion given by civil society will be given to the Cabinet," he said.
Kapil Sibal also echoed Khurshi’s words and said the differences on major issues remain unresolved.
Mamata for PM inclusion in Lokpal
Inclusion of Prime Minister or Chief Justice of India in the ambit of Lokpal "hardly matters"
in the fight against corruption, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.
"It is not a big question...whether Prime Minister or Chief Justice is included, it hardly matters. Do you think that inclusion of one person will strengthen the fight against corruption?" she asked.
However, she also said that in case the Prime Minister was included in the ambit of Lokpal, "I have no problem. I am with the UPA."
To a question, she denied that she had blamed Civil Society groups for enacting "drama" on the issue of corruption.
In an apparent dig at Civil Society, she had on Monday said, "Our party is against corruption. But we are also against creating drama."
Pressing for a comprehensive package to check the menace of corruption at all levels, Trinamool Congress chief demanded that the moneys illegally stashed abroad should be brought back.
New Delhi: Disappointed over the model of Lokpal proposed in the government's draft bill, Anna Hazare team on Tuesday called it a symbolic attempt by the Centre to install an authority in the name of the Bill.