'PM aspirants against Lokpal'

Hegde says only Prez exempt from inquiry

'PM aspirants against Lokpal'

Talking to media persons at the Hubli Airport, Hegde said that bringing the prime minister’s office in the ambit of the proposed legislation could not be unconstitutional, as only the President of India is excluded from any inquiry, as per the Indian Constitution.

This is the first time since the meetings of the Lokpal bill joint drafting committee, which went into several contentious and vexatious issues, that a representative of the civil society on the panel has hinted that other forces within the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government could have engineered moves to weaken Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s position.

Observers also note that by putting the blame on “those aspiring to be prime minister” for government’s opposition to bringing the prime minister under the purview of Lokpal, Hegde was throwing more than a hint at “the Gandhi family,” though he made no direct reference anyone.

Lokayukta’s suspicions

Hegde voiced his suspicions a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, breaking his silence on the issue, said that while he had no hesitation in bringing his office under the purview of the Lokpal, some of his Cabinet colleagues were of the opinion that such a move could create an element of instability which could go out of hand. The prime minister appeared to be willing, but helpless in the face of opposition from his own party.

Referring to criticism aga­inst the civil society members on the joint panel, Hegde said, “Some politicians are misrepresenting the movement, saying that bringing the prime minister’s office under the bill would not be correct. It seems that politicians on the draft committee are of the opinion that judges can be brought under the bill but not the PM’s office.”

Asked for his comments on Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s statement that there would be no more discussions with civil society representatives, Hegde said that it should be the decision of the entire Cabinet and not of Sibal alone.
He also rejected the apprehension expressed by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha, saying that bringing the prime minister’s office under the purview of the Lokpal would not amount to leaking the country’s secrets at the international level.

On the Lokayukta’s final report on illegal mining operations in Bellary district, Hegde said he would be submitting it to the state government soon.

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