UPA leaders meet in capital; discuss Lokpal

UPA leaders meet in capital; discuss Lokpal

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi who is the UPA Chairperson and leaders of several of the constituents of the ruling alliance met on a day when the schedule for the Monsoon Session of the Parliament was announced.

The meeting saw Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee briefing the leaders on the discussions with Anna Hazare team on the Lokpal Bill which were concluded today. Hazare had threatened fast from August 16 alleging that the government has no intention to draft a strong Lokpal Bill.

Though DMK supremo M Karunanidhi was in the Capital, he did not attend the meeting and instead sent Parliamentary Party leader T R Balu to represent the party at the high level meeting. Karunanidhi is sulking since his daughter Kanimozhi has been jailed in the 2G spectrum scam and today went to the Tihar Jail for meeting her, his second visit there in the past one month.

Congress Spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan talking to reporters separately dismissed suggestions that the arrest of Kanimozhi, who has been denied bail by the Supreme Court only yesterday, has had an adverse impact on the party's ties with the DMK.

National Conference Chief and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah said that the Prime Minister has already decided on convening an all party meeting, indicating that it would be held soon. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee, Praful Patel of the NCP, Union Ministers E Ahmad of the IUML were present at the meeting along with senior Congress leaders A K Antony and Ahmad Patel.

The meeting was part of a consultation process with the constituents of the ruling alliance over ticklish issues such as bringing the post of the PM under the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog.

It has been convened at a time when the process of drafting the Lokpal Bill will be completed by June 30. There has been divergence of views among UPA allies on the issue. While Congress and NCP have expressed opposition, DMK is reported to be favouring it.

Asked about his party's stance on the Lokpal, Abdullah said it would be known in Parliament. Sources said that some of the constituents had suggested the need for such a meeting for general coordination among the allies in view of the Monsoon Session of Parliament fast approaching.

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