New Delhi: An
all-party meeting called late Wednesday to evolve a consensus on
the Lokpal bill ended inconclusively, as Team Anna warned it might
resume its protest campaign for a strong ombudsman law on Dec 27
either in Delhi or in Mumbai.
The ruling and the opposition parties failed to break the deadlock
even after three hours of free and frank discussion, indicating
major differences of opinion. There was no commitment from the
government on the passage of bill in this session, Lok Janshakti
Party (LJP) chief Ramvilas Paswan said after the meeting.
A political party leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
said the government had informed the parties at the meeting that
it was willing to bring the prime minister under Lokpal with
exception about his work relating to internal security, public
order, atomic energy, space and external affairs.
However, he said there were reservations to bringing the lower
bureaucracy in the Lokpal. The government also told the parties
about the views of the CBI, whose director A.P. Singh had earlier
met prime minister.
The leader said the status of CBI in Lokpal had emerged as a major
sticking point with the parties giving different formulations.
While there were demands that CBI should be an independent body,
there was also a view that corruption cases of the investigating
agency should be under Lokpal. There were suggestions that Lokpal
should have an investigative mechanism to emerge as an effective
Two senior opposition leaders said after the meeting that the
government appeared not keen to bring Group C government employees
and the CBI within the Lokpal ambit and had also reservations over
inclusion of prime minister's office.
If the logjam is not resolved at the earliest, parliament would
fail to pass a consensual effective Lokpal Bill in the current
session ending Dec 22, setting the stage for another show of
strength by Team Anna.
Before the meeting began, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the
government was "committed" to implementing in "letter and spirit"
a "good and effective ombudsman bill based on political
But three hours later, the picture was anything but rosy.
"They have not come out with solid proposal. Till the time we get
firm proposals from the government, it is not possible to give
views," Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury
told reporters after the meeting ended.
He said the government may convene another all party meeting to
convey its proposal or bring them in the form of amended
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Sushma Swaraj echoed the same
"On contentious issues, we reiterated our stand on the lines of
the dissent note submitted by our members to the standing
committee," Swaraj further tweeted.
The BJP has asked for inclusion of the prime minister, Group C
government employess and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
under the ambit of the Lokpal. They also want a citizen's charter
under the Lokpal.
Team Anna was quick to react.
Its key member Kiran Bedi tweeted "Don't blame people on existing
trust deficit. Can any one take any commitment seriously
hereafter. New year in Mumbai/Delhi. With unmet demand for
Earlier, Arvind Kejriwal had said that Team Anna had always wanted
CBI to be under Lokpal.
"We feel that Lokpal without its own investigation arm which can
only be CBI, is just an empty tinbox," he said. Another member
Prashant Bhushan said inclusion of prime minister, CBI, lower
bureaucracy and citizen's charter were critical issues for Team
Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ramvilas Paswan said members of
different political parties at the all-party meeting had said that
the government should not work "under extra pressure" and "no
decision should be taken in a hurry".
Paswan said the parties emphasised that "the supremacy of
parliament should be maintained."
He also said the government had not given a commitment that the
Lokpal bill will be passed in the ongoing winter session of
Speaking to IANS, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader
Gurudas Dasgupta said that the party wants the prime minister to
be under Lokpal with certain exceptions.