Lokpal Bill: PM meets leaders of various parties

New Delhi: In a bid to evolve consensus over the Lokapl Bill, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today met leaders of various political parties with an assertion that his government was committed to an effective Lokpal legislation.

Leaders of parties in Rajya Sabha including BJP`s Arun Jaitley, BSP`s S C Mishra, RJD`s Ram Kripal Yadav, SP`s Ram Gopal Yadav, NCP`S Tariq Anwar and CPI`s A B Bardhan met at the Prime Minister`s residence to discuss the controversial bill, to which 97 amendments have been moved by Opposition members in the Upper House.

In his initial remarks at the meeting, Singh said, "Our government stands committed to an effective Lokpal legislation". Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, A K Antony and Salman Khurshid were among those present at the meeting.

The Prime Minister had said on Thursday that the meeting was aimed at achieving a meaningful consensus on the issue. The bill, which was passed by Lok Sabha in the last winter session, remained short of going through the procedures of passage in the Upper House at that time as the term of the session had expired.

Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanaswamy was in the midst of replying to the debate when the session expired at midnight.

Opposition parties have moved 97 amendments to the Bill in Rajya Sabha some of which were contentious and the meeting would discuss ways to evolve consensus on them, sources said.

Some of the amendments, the sources said, are for bringing the Prime Minister`s Office under the Lokpal, seek exclusion of Lokayukta from the Bill, abolition of minority quota and inclusion of Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha as one of the members of the selection committee. Government is keen on passing the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha even as the opposition and social activist Anna Hazare have renewed pressure on the issue.