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Hazare calls meeting with BJP 'good and fruitful'

Last updated on: July 1, 2011 16:41 IST

'Requested BJP to argue for a strong bill in Parliament'

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Civil society activist Anna Hazare on Friday held a meeting with the top brass of the Bharatiya Janata Party to discuss his draft of the Lokpal Bill. After the meeting Hazare said there was a consensus between his team and the BJP over the formation of a strong and effective Lokpal.

Hazare, who held a one-and-a-half hour meeting at the BJP headquarters in Delhi said the talks were "good and fruitful".

"In our discussions, the drafts of the Jan Lokpal Bill and the government draft were discussed. It was felt that there is a need for more debate for a strong Lokpal Bill," Hazare said. He said he had requested BJP leaders that when the bill comes up in Parliament, leaders like Arun Jaitley, Advani and Sushma Swaraj should argue strongly for it.

"We have got good guidance (from BJP) on how this bill should be. The talks were good and fruitful," said Hazare who was accompanied by civil society activists Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi.

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Image: Social activist Anna Hazare
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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BJP raises question about Constitutional immunity to MPs

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The BJP team comprised of L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, M M Joshi, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, M Venkaiah Naidu, S S Ahluwalia, Ananth Kumar, Ramlal and Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Both the sides maintained that the issue of bringing the prime minister within the ambit of the Lokpal was not discussed. The questions raised by BJP were about Constitutional immunity to the members of Parliament as ensured in Article 105.

"We heard Anna Hazare and his team and gave them all respect. We sought some clarifications. We have assured them that we want an effective Lokpal. We will form an opinion on the issue after holding a party meeting and talking to the National Democratic Alliance allies,"  Prasad, who is chief spokesperson of the BJP, said.

Kejriwal made the presentation on behalf of Anna's team on both drafts of the Lokpal Bill.

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Image: Right to Information activist Arvind Kejriwal

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BJP yet to formulate stand on nuisances of the bill

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"An important thing that came out of the meeting is that those who are chosen as Lokpal should be honest and good people. A process should be there to ensure this. This has been dealt with partly in the government draft and partly in our draft," Kejriwal said.

The BJP will on Saturday take a decision on whether to attend the all-party meeting on July 3 or not at a meeting of its NDA allies.  BJP has made it clear that it is in favour of a Lokpal Bill but maintains that it has not yet formulated its stand on the nuisances of the Bill.

"We were asked whether it is constitutionally possible to have the Lokpal and Lokayukta under the same Bill. Also, whether Article 105 (2) of the Constitution (which deals with immunity to MPs for their actions in Parliament). There were a lot of technical questions which were asked," Kejriwal said.

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Image: File photo of NDA leaders during a protest in New Delhi
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters
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'Lokpal should have people of integrity and independence'

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Bedi insisted that the common concern between the BJP and the civil society members was to ensure that people of "integrity and independence" are appointed as the Lokpal.

"I think that is the key to the success of the Lokpal. How do we get the right members in the Lokpal who are not politically influence-able, are legally capable and have integrity," Bedi said.

BJP, which has been kept out of the Lokpal debate by the government till now, felt a meeting with the civil society members would be the ideal opportunity to get involved in the process.

The opposition, according to sources, fears the government has offered to consult them only after it hit a roadblock with civil society members. The right-wing party is keen on getting the kudos for the proposed legislation.

Till now, the credit has gone to Hazare's team and to some degree to the United Progressive Alliance government.

Image: Kiran Bedi

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