Affirming that there was a “lot of scope for give and take” on the Lokpal Bill, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said that the government was open to “discussion and dialogue” on the issue.
Calling for a broad national consensus on the controversial issue, Dr. Singh expressed the hope that the government can enlist the cooperation of “all thinking segments of Indian public opinion to ensure that the end product is a strong and effective Lokpal which all sections of our community want“.
The Prime Minister was answering questions from the media at the conclusion of the full meeting of the Planning Commission at his residence to approve the Approach Paper of the 12th Five Year Plan.
Dr. Singh said the government has presented a Lokpal Bill which was the demand of all political parties when he had convened an all party conference on the issue.
“They said we cannot give you our viewpoint unless and until you come out with a draft. We have fulfilled that obligation.
“But we are open to discussion and dialogue. We like a broad national consensus to emerge. We are all in favour of a Lokpal, which is strong and which is effective,” he said.
Asked about Anna Hazare’s demand that the Jan Lokpal Bill should be passed by Parliament by August 30, the Prime Minister said, “Well, clearly I think there are difficulties. It is a logic of the legislative process.”
He said certain stages have to be crossed and “I would not not like to say or controvert anything else that has been said by somebody else.”
But, Dr. Singh said, he hoped that people will appreciate that there is a dynamic of the legislative process which takes time sometimes.
“But we must all work together to push forward the case for a strong effective Lokpal and whatever obstacles that come in the way should be removed. There should be a commitment which all segments of political parties must honour and work towards it,” he said.