NDA to attend all-party meeting on Lokpal

New Delhi: BJP-led NDA on Saturday said it would attend the all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Lokpal Bill but indicated it would respond only to a draft legislation approved by the union cabinet and introduced in Parliament.

While NDA allies JD(U) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) were in favour of attending the all-party meeting, BJP was initially in two minds on whether to participate or keep away.

Key NDA ally Shiv Sena has ruled out its participation in tomorrow`s meeting due to some differences with civil rights activist Anna Hazare who spoke against its chief Bal Thackeray a few days ago.

Sources said finally a decision was taken that NDA should participate in the meeting, listen to the government`s views and make its opinion on the issue known to UPA as well as other parties.

However, the opposition has decided not to react to the working paper and the two drafts of the bill sent by the government to all parties. Instead, NDA will categorically tell the government that it will react only to a Lokpal Bill approved by the union cabinet and introduced in Parliament.

After the NDA meeting today, its Working Chairperson LK Advani said "this is for the first time that the government has invited the opposition for a meeting on the Lokpal Bill.

Initially, when the opposition parties discussed the invitation, there was no clarity on whether we should attend. Today, we decided that we should go there and expresss our differences on the issue."

Advani insisted he would ask Shiv Sena to do a rethink on its decision and was hopeful of succeeding.