Govt to iron out differences on Lokpal Bill in Budget

New Delhi: The government today stepped up efforts to iron out differences on contentious aspects of the Lokpal Bill, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meeting leaders of various parties during which it was decided that the legislation could be taken up during the second half of the Budget Session.

At the all-party meet of Rajya Sabha members convened by the Prime Minister at his residence here, it was agreed that the government will work for a consensus on the wording of contentious aspects of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill during the intervening period of the Budget Session.

"The government along with major political parties will come out with a consensus. The government is committed to bring the Bill in this session. …The actual wording of the Lokpal Bill will be worked out during the intervening period the Budget Session," CPI(M)`s Sitaram Yechury told reporters after the meeting.

He said the Bill cannot come up during the first half of the current session ending March 30, as the budget has to be passed before the end of the current financial year. "The Bill will be taken up in the second half..This week it cannot come up in this session as the budget has to be passed," said Yechury.

There was consensus in the meeting on having Lokayuktas in states, but the prerogative for their appointment will be that of the state, he said.

UPA`s allies Trinamool Congress and DMK also raised the issue that the Centre should not interfere with the powers of the states for having Lokayuktas. Trinamool leader Sukhendu Roy said, "We opposed the inclusion of Lokayukta appointment in the Lokpal Bill in its present form as it will harm the federal structure."

Samajwadi Party general secretary Mohan Singh told reporters that the government will refer the opposition`s three main demands on Lokpal issue to the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha.

These demands were delinking of Lokayuktas from Lokpal Bill, making appointment process of the Lokpal more democratic and inclusive and creation of an independent probe agency under Lokpal and bring ing superintendence of corruption cases probed by the CBI under the Lokpal. However, Ram Kripal Yadav (RJD) and Ramvilas Paswan (LJP) opposed the creation of a Lokpal.

On the issue of bringing the CBI under the Lokpal`s ambit, Yechury said, all issues related with corruption should be under the Lokpal. "If the CBI does such investigations, then the CBI`s anti-corruption wing will be under the control and superintendence of the Lokpal," he said. Yechury also called for inclusion of corporates and NGOs which derive contracts from the government under the purview of Lokpal.