New Delhi: Talks between government and Anna Hazare-led Civil Society failed to make any headway on Wednesday following the differences over various elements of the proposed Lokpal Bill. However, the two sides agreed to meet again on June 20 and 21 to bridge "strong divergence" of opinion. JPN/Agencies
The two-and-half hour meeting of the joint drafting committee decided that a note will be sent to the Union Cabinet by June 30, carrying versions of both the sides.
The Civil Society members suggested that Lokpal should be empowered to probe corruption cases against officials doing away with the practice of conducting departmental probe along with a CBI enquiry. However, the government members rejected.
The other issue discussed in the meeting was the structure of Lokpal. The Hazare team proposed a 11-member independent anti-corruption watchdog with subordinates having powers while the government side differed arguing that only 11 members be empowered to take decisions.
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said the committee will again meet on June 20 and 21 in an attempt to bridge differences.
"It is clear there are areas where there are strong divergence of opinion...Hopefully the civil society members will give us a draft on issues of divergence. We ourselves will prepare a draft on the issues on which we think there are divergence and we will try and arrive at a consensus.
"If no consensus is not arrived, then we will forward a draft bill with both versions so that the Cabinet can take a view," he said. The process will be completed by June 30.
Claiming that nothing could be achieved from today's meeting, activist Arvind Kejriwal said, "The government is trying to kill the Lokpal even before it is born."
Will toe High Command's line: Cong CMs to Pranab
Meanwhile, the states ruled by the Congress have informed the Centre that they will go by the views of the "party High Command" and UPA government on the issue of Lokpal Bill.
All the Congress Chief Ministers, except for Sheila Dikshit in Delhi and Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan, mentioned in their letter that they will go by the decision of the Congress central leadership and UPA government on the issue.
While Dikshit made it clear that she will welcome "whatever be the outcome of the Government of India's views" on the Bill, Gehlot argued for a "much wider" consultations with political parties at the national level on the Bill.
The responses of the Chief Ministers to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the chairman of the Lokpal Bill joint drafting committee, came after he sent letters to them seeking opinion on contentious issues of inclusion of Prime Minister, Judiciary and MPs under the ambit of the Lokpal.
"I have carefully considered the matter. As you know, Haryana state is being governed by Congress party which is a national party having a well defined cadre .” "As such, our stand on the issues connected with the draft Lokpal Bill will be the same as that of the party at the national level," Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said in the letter.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan also did not give a direct answer to the queries raised by Mukherjee but said the views of the state government will be in conformity with the central leadership of Congress and NCP.
"I would want to state here that the Congress government of Arunachal Pradesh being an extension of Congress led government at the Centre, holds the same mandate and view on the matter and extends its unequivocal support to any decision that the party High Command will take," Arunachal Chief Minister Jarbom Gamlin said.
Kerala Chief Minister Ommen Chandy said he would subscribe to the "views of the All India Congress Committee" but added that, the Lokpal was given "wide powers and hence the Bill is a strong measure to curb corruption as well as maladministration at higher levels of public administration.
"After examining the issues in this regard and considering the fact that my government is headed by the Congress, Government of Goa will concur the approach adopted and decision taken by the Central leadership of the Congress," Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat also echoed others.
New Delhi: Talks between government and Anna Hazare-led Civil Society failed to make any headway on Wednesday following the differences over various elements of the proposed Lokpal Bill. However, the two sides agreed to meet again on June 20 and 21 to bridge "strong divergence" of opinion.