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Pranab Mukherjee pleads for a Lokpal Bill, reflecting views in Parliament

December 27, 2011 - New Delhi

Asserting that the government is not insensitive to the needs of the Members of Parliament and of the outside forces, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said the legislation on the Lokpal Bill must be done on the floor of the House.

Participating in a debate on the Lokpal Bill inside the Lok Sabha today, Mukherjee said: "The debate has been lively. Various points have been covered. The government has not moved in undue haste. For last six months, we are debating this issue inside the House. Country is agitating and debating this issue outside the House. They are the decision-makers, not suggestion-givers."

"There is nothing wrong in dialogue with civil society, but I also don't agree when they say it should be only their view. Contradictory positions taken by political parties. We received mandate from all-party meeting. Not under duress, not under threat. We wanted to have effective strong anti-corruption legislation in form of Lokpal Bill," he added.

Accusing the political parties of taking contradictory stand on the Lokpal Bill issue, Mukherjee said: "Nothing has come from magician's hat. Everything was discussed.

The government received mandate at all-party meeting. Quota was also brought up.

The government draft is based on daylong discussion in Parliament."

"But again it is called sarkari Lokpal. Because of five members in selection panel - who will include PM and Speaker. We talk of sovereignty of House, but then we raise questions about this," he added.

Further taking on senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha, Mukherjee said: "On August 27, we agreed on this through Sense of the House. You say federal structure will be compromised. But we are going to bring amendment to provide that without consent of state government, it will not be enacted. 40 years we have waited. I did not expect Yashwant Sinha to say this (PM) is a farewell speech."

"Why are you in a hurry? Why don't you wait for two years more? PM is not giving farewell speech. PM has introduced new direction in parliamentary democracy. He suggested engaging with civil society," he added.

BJP leader Yashwant Sinha had earlier criticised Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan's speech made inside the Lok Sabha, and said that the former's speech seemed like an exit speech.

Participating in a debate on the Lokpal Bill in Lok Sabha today, Sinha said: "The way the Prime Minister listed his government's achievements seemed like an exit speech. The government wants to shove this bill down our throats. Why? You have deliberately created a weak and helpless Lokpal."

Yashwant Sinha further accused the government of deliberately creating a weak and helpless Lokpal.

"A morally bankrupt government has brought not a Lokpal Bill but a 'Brokepal' Bill. What this government has put us through with its scandals -that is why an old man is on a fast in Mumbai. The honest PM heads the most corrupt government India has ever had. This is why people are restless and desperate for change," said Sinha.

"Prevention of Corruption Act covers everyone from peon to PM; so does Indian Penal Code. These two laws are what the Lokpal will enforce, isn't it? Not one minister from Atalji's Government is in any jail. Minority reservation - you (UPA Government) have introduced this, you know it will not stick," he added.


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