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Anna meets BJP leaders on Lokpal

By The Assam Tribune
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NEW DELHI, July 1 � 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, reports PTI.

Hazare, along with his team members Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, went to the BJP headquarters here for a meeting with LK 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.

�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.

Though BJP has not yet decided whether NDA will attend Sunday�s all-party meeting, party sources said not getting involved at all would lead to Team Anna and the government getting all the credit for the Bill.

At the same time, BJP President Nitin Gadkari has rubbed it in that the government thought of consulting the opposition now and called for an all-party meeting only when big differences arose with Anna�s team.

Interestingly, the BJP asked the government to clarify if the draft Bill prepared by Mukherjee�s team is the government version.

In today�s meeting, Hazare told BJP leaders that he had suggested to the Joint Drafting Committee at the very beginning that the opposition should also be involved.

Among other concerns, BJP does not want a Lokpal who has the powers to �disturb the sensitive federal structure�.

�The Lokpal should not be such that the Centre misuses it as the present UPA government has done by crossing all limits of discrimination against non-Congress state governments,� Prasad said.

BJP also insisted that the MPs should be able to participate in Parliamentary activity without fear, inducements or threat, and undue control of the Lokpal over it may be detrimental.

The civil society members were of the opinion that the Lokpal Bill should be the same for the Centre and the state and be brought into force simultaneously as was done in the case of RTI.

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Anna meets BJP leaders on Lokpal

NEW DELHI, July 1 � 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, reports PTI.

Hazare, along with his team members Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, went to the BJP headquarters here for a meeting with LK 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.

�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.

Though BJP has not yet decided whether NDA will attend Sunday�s all-party meeting, party sources said not getting involved at all would lead to Team Anna and the government getting all the credit for the Bill.

At the same time, BJP President Nitin Gadkari has rubbed it in that the government thought of consulting the opposition now and called for an all-party meeting only when big differences arose with Anna�s team.

Interestingly, the BJP asked the government to clarify if the draft Bill prepared by Mukherjee�s team is the government version.

In today�s meeting, Hazare told BJP leaders that he had suggested to the Joint Drafting Committee at the very beginning that the opposition should also be involved.

Among other concerns, BJP does not want a Lokpal who has the powers to �disturb the sensitive federal structure�.

�The Lokpal should not be such that the Centre misuses it as the present UPA government has done by crossing all limits of discrimination against non-Congress state governments,� Prasad said.

BJP also insisted that the MPs should be able to participate in Parliamentary activity without fear, inducements or threat, and undue control of the Lokpal over it may be detrimental.

The civil society members were of the opinion that the Lokpal Bill should be the same for the Centre and the state and be brought into force simultaneously as was done in the case of RTI.

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