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Dr Singh may tell Parliament he wants PM's post under Lokpal

By Sheela Bhatt
December 09, 2011 17:18 IST
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The much-awaited report of the parliamentary panel that examined the Lokpal Bill has left the final decision -- about the inclusion of the prime minister's post under the aegis of the Lokpal --- to the House.

The report, along with 16 dissenting notes, was submitted and tabled in Parliament on Friday.
According to a senior Cabinet minister, "During the debate over the Lokpal BIll, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to tell Parliament that he wants the PM's post to be included under the Lokpal."

Rahul Gandhi is expected to get the credit for insisting on the inclusion of 57 lakh junior government officers under Lokpal.

The report has recommended that junior officers should be kept under the purview of the Central Vigilance Commission.

Meenakshi Natrajan, a confidante of Rahul Gandhi and member of the Standing Committee on Lokpal, has already given a dissent note on the issue.

The Cabinet minister, who is against the inclusion of PM's post in Lokpal, said," We have seen in states ruled by the Congress that whenever the party high command changes the leadership, the entire bureaucracy comes to a standstill. Nothing moves in the state till the new chief minister takes over. Do you want such instability at the Centre every time someone goes to Lokpal with a complaint against the PM? Bureaucracy will not function if it thinks the prime minister may be asked to quit."

He further pointed out that if the prime minister of India was under investigation for corruption, his own bureaucrats would not take him seriously and the country will appear weak internationally.

What will happen, asked the Cabinet minister, if India got embroiled in a war while the PM was facing an investigation by the Lokpal?

Agreeing that if and when the Lokpal Bill becomes a reality it will be a historic day, he said, "There are no two opinions about it."

The Cabinet minister, who is also powerful regional leader, said, "I think the institution of Lokpal is also likely to get corrupt. The officers under Lokpal will start making money."

But the mood in the country is in favour of a Lokpal. Many believe that the creation of Lokpal will be a robust effort by India to tackle corruption inside the government. If and when the Lokpal comes into existence, even with a weak anti-corruption ombudsman, government servants will certainly feel the heat.
The movement by activist Anna Hazare is, largely, credited for the Parliament's effort towards preparing the report in record time.
The report was tabled in Rajya Sabha by Abhishek Manu Singhvi, chairman of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice, Public Grievances and Personnel. In the Lok Sabha, Committee member and advocate Pinaki Misra tabled it.

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
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