BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman tells Kunal Majumder that the party will reveal its stand on Lokpal in Parliament. “When the government decided to engage with the civil society group represented by Anna Hazare, they did not think it was necessary to invite the principal opposition party. It was important for the government to take all political parties on board. The government has not clearly stated its stand on the Lokpal Bill either. I can understand the enthusiasm and curiosity to know what is our party’s stand. In all fairness, we will state our view in Parliament,” she says.
The government’s intentions became very clear today. It wants to kill Lokpal before it were born. They want to create a Lokpal without any administrative or investigative machinery – an emaciated and disempowered Lokpal. Government says that it would be an eleven member body. Benches of these eleven members would take all decisions. Government says that Lokpal would have powers to receive public grievances from ordinary people. So, if an income tax officer demanded a bribe to give an income tax refund in Bangalore, the citizen will have to make a complaint to the eleven member body in Delhi and come to Delhi for hearings.
Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan tells Kunal Majumder that the Centre is probably stonewalling on the Lokpal Bill. “For the first time, major contentious issues were discussed and the government’s response was negative on virtually all of them. They said the prime minister should not be included, the judiciary should not be included, the MPS’ conduct inside Parliament should not be included, nor should government servants below a certain level. That leaves only a small section, i.e., ministers and senior civil servants. Kapil Sibal even said that the armed forces should not be included. Then what is the point of the Lokpal?” he says.