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BJP refuses to respond to government letter on Lokpal Bill

Friday June 03, 2011 08:23:16 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Even as several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have supported bringing the prime minister under the purview of the anti-graft Lokpal Bill, the party Friday refused to respond to the government's letter seeking its opinion on the issue.

Responding to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's letter seeking the party's response on the suggestion from civil society members in drafting the Lokpal (ombudsman) Bill, BJP president Nitin Gadkari slammed the government for not consulting other political parties so far, and said it would be inappropriate for them to respond at this stage.

"Expecting political parties to give their views to a drafting committee comprising civil society representatives for acceptance or otherwise would be upsetting the constitutional propriety where parties, parliamentarians and parliament have the last word. They are decision makers, and not suggestion givers," said Gadkari in his response letter to Mukherjee.

He criticised the government for giving the deadline of June 6 for responding to Mukherjee's letter which was sent May 31.

"However, though not having felt the necessity of ever involving political parties, particularly those in the opposition in this entire debate, you have now considered it expedient that they must give their views in a period of less than one week on the issue of divergence between ministers and civil society representatives," he said.

Gadkari suggested that the government should consult the opposition parties before introducing the bill in parliament.

"It would therefore be appropriate that when you prepare the final draft legislative proposal in relation to Lokpal, you can consult us before it is introduced in parliament for our suggestions," he said.

"In case of divergence of opinion between members of the drafting committee, the final proposal carrying both view points can be sent to us for our views at that stage. It would not be proper for parties and parliamentarians to start submitting their opinions to others for acceptance or rejection," he added.

The central government sent letters to states and major political parties seeking their opinion on a proposal to bring the office of prime minister under the Lokpal May 31.

The letter was sent after there was difference between the civil society and the government on the topic. The letter also sought views on inclusion of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, and the conduct of MPs under the purview of the Lokpal.




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