Lokpal meet cordial but more differences emerge

7:00 PM, Monday, June 20th, 2011

Anna HazareNew Delhi:  The ministers working on the Lokpal Bill feel their meeting today with activists headed by Gandhian Anna Hazare was a significant step forward.
While agreeing that today’s talks  were “cordial,” the activists said that all key points of differences remain, and in fact two new ones have emerged.
The  Drafting Committee of the Lokpal Bill, which combines five ministers and five non-elected representatives headed by Mr Hazare, has recently seen bitter and public differences of opinion. The committee will meet again tomorrow at 4.30 pm. Before then, the ministers and activists will swap drafts of the Lokpal Bill.
“The atmosphere was non-acrimonious… there was broad consent,” said Kapil Sibal, one of the five ministers on the Drafting Committee. Mr Sibal said there was consensus between the two sides on “80-85%” of the issues.” He also said that both sides have agreed not to generate two drafts of the same bill. “Both sides feel we should move towards a consensus… in areas of divergence, we will formulate a draft in which those areas will be spelled out. So that when the matter goes to the political parties who are to be consulted in July, areas of divergence of opinion and the alternatives are put before political leaders and political parties,” he said.
Arvind Kejriwal, an activist-member of the committee, said that the earlier sticking points – like whether the Lokpal bill should cover the Prime Minister and senior judges were discussed but not resolved. He also said that new differences have emerged over who will select the 11 members of the Lokpal. The ministers, Mr Kejriwal said, want politicians – mainly those from the government – to choose the Lokpal. “This could be very dangerous for India,” said Mr Kejriwal. He also said that the ministers want the government alone to have the right to ask the Supreme Court to investigate charges of corruption  against the Lokpal. Team Anna believes that all citizens should have the right to move the Supreme Court for the removal of a Lokpal member.

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