Hazare meets BJP top brass on Lokpal Bill

26 May 2011
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.New Delhi, July (PTI) BJP today made its first serious move to engage on the Lokpal Bill issue with its top brass discussing the two drafts of the proposed legislation and the impact of bringing MPs and higher judiciary in its ambit with civil society activists led by Anna Hazare.

Hazare, along with his team members Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, went to the BJP headquarters here for a meeting with L K Advani and ten other top party leaders, who assured him that the opposition party was fully committed to a "strong and credible" Lokpal.

During the one-and-a-half hour meeting, also attended by Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, the civil society members apprised the BJP leaders of the points of differences between their draft and the draft of the government representatives led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Both maintained that there was no discussion on including the Prime Minister within the ambit of the Lokpal. Team Anna has been making a strong pitch for such a move.

The opposition''s main concern was whether the MPs would continue to enjoy the legal immunity they do for acts done in Parliament once the Lokpal is appointed.

"We were asked whether constitutionally it is possible to have the Lokpal and Lokayukta under the same Bill and about 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.

Both the BJP and the civil society members agreed that the Bill should ensure a mechanism by which peopl of "integrity and independence" are appointed as Lokpal.

After the meeting, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said his party is "fully committed to a strong and credible Lokpal".

With government having convened an all-party meeting on July 3 to discuss the issue, BJP chose to keep its cards close to its chest, refusing to divulge areas of disagreement with the government and Jan Lokpal drafts. .

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