BJP says it won't accept bill that excludes PM

Stating that her party supports the establishment of an independent and credible Lokpal, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj objected to the immunity clause  protecting the Prime Minister from the Bill’s anti-graft provisions.

Swaraj recalled that the NDA government under Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2001 had prepared a Lok Pal Bill which included Prime Minister. Vajpayee had contended that unless the Prime Minister came under the purview of the Bill, the institution would remain ineffective. That Bill could not be passed as the NDA did not have majority in the Rajya Sabha. She also noted that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, as chairman of the standing committee in 2001, had supported bringing PM under the ambit of Lokpal.

Mukherjee said he was, indeed, the chairman of the 2001 committee and on February 16, 2008, had placed the panel’s report before the House. “What prevented this government from introducing the Bill? They had two years time,” he remarked. Swaraj said the BJP would not accept the Bill unless the Prime Minister and ministers were brought under the Bill’s ambit.

Cong slams BJP

The Congress accused the BJP of adopting “double standards” on the issue of corruption watchdog. Union Minister Kapil Sibal said: “BJP has double standards on the issue. They have given immunity to their chief ministers. In the states where they are in power, the office of the chief minister is excluded from Lokayukta purview. There is no Lokayukta in Gujarat.”

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