Lokpal bill not under duress, all views considered: Pranab

New Delhi : Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday forcefully countered the opposition’s charge that the Lokpal bill has been tabled under duress and stressed that all proposals and views have been shared with other political parties.

“There is a long history of the last six months. We entered into a dialogue with civil society,” Mukherjee said while replying to over nine-hour debate in the Lok Sabha on the Lokpal bill while recalling several times the legislation has been discussed by parliament.

“It is not under duress but we wanted to have a strong anti-corruption legislation in the form of a Lokpal, an ombudsman which will examine corruption in high places,” said Mukherjee, Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha, while asking MPs to pass the Lokpal legislation.

“All the proposals, including reservations for the Scheduled Castes, STs (scheduled tribes) and women, were shared with political parties. Nothing has come out of the hat of a magician,” said Mukherjee.

Making a forceful pitch for an effective anti-graft legislation, he stressed that safeguards have been built into the legislation while bringing the prime minister within the ambit of the Lokpal.

He also refuted the critics’ charge that the process of the selection of the Lokpal could make him vulnerable to pressures of the government of the day.

Mukherjee was speaking in the Lok Sabha after MPs debated the pros and cons of the Lokpal bill even as Anna Hazare started a three-day fast in Mumbai for a strong anti-graft ombudsman.

Earlier, while intervening, the prime minister underlined that the bill lived up to the promise MPs “collectively made to the people of the country” with a ‘sense of house’ resolution in August when Hazare staged his 12-day fast in Delhi.

Mukherjee also accused the opposition parties of wasting the time of parliament, which has prevented the passage of important legislations and stressed that if it continued, parliament will lose respect of society.

“We wasted enough time in the parliament. That’s why so many bills were not passed. If we continue like this, it will lose respect of all other sections of society,” he said.

He was reacting to the opposition’s charge that the Lokpal bill was been tabled in a hurry.

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