Parl panel on Lokpal divided on party lines on including PM

Consensus eluded the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice on the issue with Congress and its allies, as well as Lalu Prasad-led RJD and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, opposing the inclusion of Prime Minister within the purview of Lokpal.

Former SP member Amar Singh, who has been ailing for sometime, attended today's meeting of the panel. Sources said he also sided with the ruling party.

The opposition- mainly the BJP and the Left parties- favoured inclusion of the Prime Minister under Lokpal.

A middle path was suggested by some members who said the Prime Minister can be brought within the ambit of the ombudsman but with some riders like excluding his duties relating to external affairs and internal security, among others.

Some members also argued that since the PM is included under the Prevention of Corruption Act, there is no need to put him in the ambit of the Lokpal as well. However, the opposition parties have used the same argument to say that if the high office is covered under PCA, why not the Lokpal.

Sources said though a majority of the members in the Committee felt the PM should not be included within Lokpal, no decision could be taken and the matter will be further discussed in subsequent meetings.

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