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BJP snubs Pranab's request for inputs on Lokpal Bill

Source: PTI
June 03, 2011 18:13 IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday spurned Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's request for inputs on the proposed Lokpal Bill, arguing it would not be proper for a political party to submit its views to a drafting committee comprising civil society members as it would upset constitutional propriety.

"Expecting political parties to give their views to a drafting committee comprising civil society representatives for acceptance or otherwise would be upsetting constitutional propriety where parties, parliamentarians and Parliament have the last word. They are the decision-makers and not suggestion givers," BJP President Nitin Gadkari said.

Mukherjee had written a letter on May 31 to the BJP, other political parties and chief ministers seeking their opinion on the proposed bill. There are reportedly several differences between the civil society representatives headed by social activist and Gandhian Anna Hazare, and the government panel headed by Mukherjee. Gadkari has suggested in his reply that the BJP can be consulted before the bill is introduced in Parliament.

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

The BJP said the government was reaching out to the opposition only now and given less than a week to the parties to send their suggestions. It also conveyed its resentment at being ignored when the drafting process began despite it being the principal opposition.

Gadkari said, "At no stage has the government thought it necessary to consult either the BJP or any other political party in regard to several issues involved in the context of setting up of an independent Lokpal."

The main opposition party has taken dig at the government for the apparent differences between the civil society and government members on the provisions of the proposed legislation and on who all should be brought under its ambit.  

The BJP, however, clarified that it was all for an effective Lokpal Bill to check corruption. "The Bill for setting up of the institution of Lokpal to curb corruption in high places is an important landmark proposal. The BJP is committed to the creation of an independent Lokpal," the party said.

Though Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj has said the prime minister should come within the purview of the Lokpal and stated that former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had expressed willingness to be monitored by an ombudsman, BJP sources said the party is wary of such a proposal.

Briefing reporters later, BJP chief spokesman Ravi Shanker Prasad said while demanding an independent mechanism to deal with the appointment of a Lokpal, the party advocated setting up a national commission to deal with appointment of the Supreme Court and high court judges.

Giving highlights of Gadkari's inaugural address to the party's national executive in Lucknow, Prasad said the party chief suggested a five-point plan to eradicate corruption. "The national president has said that an independent mechanism should be set up to deal with the appointment of Lokpal to handle corruption cases," he said.

Prasad said Gadkari wanted setting up a national judicial commission to deal with appointments of SC and HC judges and handle any allegation against them. "Thirdly, the BJP president talked about introduction of open voting in Legislative Council polls," he said.

Gadkari suggested introduction of two laws to deal with attachment or confiscation of property acquired by public servants through corruption and Lok Sewa Guarantee Act on the lines of laws in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. "He has also emphasised on introducing a law to bar persons with criminal background from entering politics," Prasad said.

On being asked about party's support to yoga guru Baba Ramdev's campaign, Prasad said the BJP chief had already made an announcement in this regard. "There is full support to anyone who raises the issue of corruption and black money," he said.

The BJP leader alleged that the seriousness of the Centre on Lokpal issue was very well known. "The question is why meaningful action is not being taken. If the Supreme Court was not there, action would not have been taken against Hasan Ali (Pune-based stud farm owner charged with money laundering and tax evasion)," he said.

Prasad said that the issue of black money was everyone's issue. "The issue has agitated the psyche of the people," he said, adding that it was raised by senior party leader L K Advani in 2009 itself.



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