Govt expressed confidence that a consensus will emerge on the issue and the draft legislation would be introduced in Parliament in the upcoming Monsoon Session.
“We are very happy with the outcome of the all party meeting yesterday…we are confident we can take the process forward to bring the Bill in the Monsoon Session and pass it as soon as possible,” Home Minister P Chidambaram said in New Delhi on Monday.
He pointed out that Sunday’s all party meeting called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh emphasised the primacy of the Parliamentary process and the role of political parties to pilot and approve legislations.“We will therefore bring a Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament. That Bill will be examined. Every effort will be made to pass the Bill at the earliest. But that will depend on the members of Parliament and their desire to follow established procedures,” Chidambaram said.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal made it very clear that the government had promised to bring the Lokpal Bill in the Parliament in the Monsoon Session but there was no commitment on the timeline of passing the same.
“We had said we are committed to bringing the Bill in the monsoon session. We never said it will be passed in the monsoon session,” Sibal said.
The Minister also said that two parties which took part in the all party meeting suggested that the Bill could be passed in the Winter Session.
Reflecting their eagerness to build a consensus, the union ministers said there was nothing wrong in a number of political parties, including BJP not spelling out their stand on contentious provisions of the Bill like bringing Prime Minister and the higher judiciary under Lokpal’s ambit.
Chidambaram said it was “legitimate and valid” that most parties reserved their views on the provisions of the Bill till it will be brought before Parliament.
Supporting Chidambaram’s statement, Sibal said that BJP may be requiring more time to finalize a view on the provisions.
Chidambaram described as “preliminary views” opinions expressed by some political parties for or against bringing the Prime Minister and the judiciary under Lokpal’s ambit.
“Our impression is that all these views are subject to change when we go through the procedures,” Chidambaram said.
Going a step further Sibal said, “Many of these voices that you hear will merge into the consensus.”
Chidambaram downplayed UPA ally DMK’s strong assertion that both Prime Minister and the judiciary should be brought under Lokpal and refused to see a “divide” in the alliance.
“UPA is not a political party. It’s a coalition of political parties. When you have more than one party, you may have different views on some issues. That does not mean that the UPA is divided,” Chidambaram said.
He said as long as there is a broad consensus on the Bill, there is nothing to be alarmed, and suggested the government has no problem even if some allies express different views on some provisions of the Bill.
Sibal pointed out that leaders of many political parties wondered at the definition of the civil society and wanted to know whether five members led by Hazare represented the entire civil society of India.