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Lokpal: Battle on new issues; differences widen
Published on 21 Jun. 2011 12:58 AM IST
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Differences between Team Anna and the government widened further Monday as both sides stuck to their stand on key issues, including on bringing the prime minister within the ambit of a strong Lokpal bill, even as new areas of disagreement emerged.
However, both sides for the first time agreed that the atmosphere of their seventh meeting was “non-acrimonious” and “cordial”. Emerging from the three-hour, penultimate meeting at North Block, Anna Hazare described it as “good” and said the talks are “finally” back on track.
While Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal described the meeting as a “major step forward”, the civil society members were less happy, saying that “two new issues of disagreement have emerged” and the key issues are yet to be resolved.
Speaking to reporters, Sibal said there were “full-fledged discussions on a range of issues. The atmosphere was non-acrimonious, it was friendly…there was a broad consensus.”
“I think it’s a major step forward. Both sides feel that we should move towards a consensus, and where there are significant areas of divergence and disagreements to formulate a draft in which those areas will be spelt out,” he said.
Sibal also said the government will be meeting and discussing the key issues with political parties. The all-party meet - the dates will be announced later - will be held in July. He said that the bill will be introduced in the monsoon session of parliament beginning mid-July.
Describing the meeting as “cordial”, civil society members said “differences persisted” between the two sides. The two sides have been locked in a war of words in recent weeks over various issues, including on whether or not to bring the prime minister and the higher judiciary within the ambit of the Lokpal. The issue was not taken up in Monday’s meeting.
Giving more details, Arvind Kejriwal, also a civil society member of the drafting committee, said they had “proposed a broad-based Lokpal committee consisting of non-political and independent people in the draft of the proposed bill while the government’s version has mainly political people in the appointment committee”.
When asked about the Lokpal bill, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said: “Constitutionally, the legislature should have the right of drafting the bill.”

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