Meeting with BJP ‘good, fruitful’: Hazare

Anna Hazare

NEW DELHI: Civil society activist Anna Hazare held a meeting with BJP top brass to discuss his draft of the Lokpal Bill after which he said there was a consensus between his team and the party over formation of a strong and effective Lokpal.

Hazare, who held the one-and-a-half hour meeting at BJP headquarters here, 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.

“We have requested the BJP that when the Bill comes up in Parliament its leaders like Arun Jaitley, Advani and Sushma Swaraj should argue strongly for it and they have agreed,” Hazare said.

He said, “We have got a good guidance (from BJP) on how this Bill should be. The talks were good and fruitful.”

Hazare was accompanied by civil society activists Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi.

The BJP team comprised 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 main concern voiced by the Opposition while agreeing on the need for a Lokpal was that persons with a clean image should be appointed.

The questions raised by BJP were also about Constitutional immunity to the MPs in 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 NDA,” 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.

“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 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 favor of a Lokpal Bill but maintains that it has not yet formulated its stand on the nuisances of the Bill.

“We were asked whether constitutionally it is 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.

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 UPA government. -PTI

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