Team Anna has criticised the Congress after a last minute U-turn by the party demanding removal of Group C bureaucrats from the ambit of Lokpal.
Sources say the Congress developed a cold feet at the Core Committee meeting on Wednesday, when top leadership felt that they couldn’t antagonise the bureaucrats adding them under the purview of the Lokpal committee.
The backtrack by the government has invited sharp criticism from various quarters.
Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan said that if group C and D bureaucrats are not included under the Lokpal it will create two kinds of problems.
Bhushan said, “If you don’t have group C and D employees, if you don’t have all the government employees, it will create two kinds of problems. Firstly, who is to start the investigation because when you start an investigation into a scam, you don’t know whether group C is involved or group A or both. Secondly, if you’re going to exclude group C and D, who will look after them?”
Bhushan also said that the CBI should come under the ambit of Lokpal as administrative control makes them liable to the government.
“We’ve been saying that the administrative control of the CBI must be transferred to the Lokpal. It shouldn’t be kept with the government because it’s the administrative control which makes them liable to the government,” Bhushan said.
Regarding appointment of a Lokpal, Bhushan said, “We’d suggested a very broad based selection committee in which the government has only one member, there’s only one other politician, namely, the leader of the Opposition and there are 6-9 independent constitutional authorities. Now the selection committee is such that the government will be largely able to control the selection of the Lokpal.”
HOwever, reacting to the criticsm, Congress spokesperson and Parliamentary Standing Committee chairman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “There are differences. This report is not about the Prime Minister, or class A or class B. There are 25 important issues for which there has been convergence in the meeting.”
“There was a large number of divergence of views which led to today’s meeting. Whatever happened on Wednesday is on record, where is the question of U-turn,” Singhvi said.
“Sense of the House has not been violated. Sense of the House is to provide for certain things by appropriate mechanism. A strong Lokpal has been proposed in the report. It’s not the government Bill at all, we are not here to please everyone and all,” he said.
“The bill has to be something which needs to work on the ground. This is not a Team Anna draft, neither it is a government draft as well,” he added.
In Wednesday’s meeting, several members, including those from the BJP, disagreed with various aspects like inclusion of the Prime Minister under the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog.
BJP members wanted inclusion of Prime Minister with some safeguards and citizens’ charter to be a part of the Lokpal institution. They also demanded the inclusion of the entire bureaucracy under the ambit of the ombudsman.
Samajwadi Party’s main demand was to make citizen’s charter a part of the Lokpal.
Singhvi said the report, to be tabled in Parliament, will reflect dissent notes of members who have divergent views on ‘some’ issues. Members from the CPM and the AIADMK are also learnt to have differed on various aspects of the Bill.
Though the government is not under compulsion to accept the committee’s report, the deep divide between the Opposition and the government is bound to echo in Parliament when the Lokpal Bill comes up for discussion in the House.