DMK wants PM to be brought under Lokpal

A meeting of UPA leaders on the contentious Lokpal bill on Tuesday saw DMK voicing the demand that the office of Prime Minister should come within its ambit.

The DMK demand was voiced by its Parliamentary Party Leader T R Baalu even as the party chief M Karunanidhi, who was in the capital, skipped the meeting.

Sources, however, said that DMK's demand was nothing new because it had always maintained the stand, but political observers saw significance with the demand being raised in the current circumstances of party leaders having trouble over the 2G spectrum scam.

DMK leaders Kanimozhi and A Raja, the former Telecom Minister, are currently in Tihar jail in connection with the scam.

The UPA government is opposed to bringing the Prime Minister under the purview of Lokpal and virtually all allies support it on this issue. The Government thinks bringing the office of Prime Minister in office will harm governance and could be a security risk also.

On Tuesday, the draft bill circulated by the government also exempted the Prime Minister from the coverage of Lokpal.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi who is the UPA Chairperson and leaders of several of the constituents of the ruling alliance met on a day when the schedule for the Monsoon Session of the Parliament was announced.

The meeting saw Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee briefing the leaders on the discussions with Anna Hazare team on the Bill, which were concluded on Tuesday. Hazare had threatened fast from August 16 alleging that the government has no intention to draft a strong Lokpal Bill.

National Conference Chief and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah said that the Prime Minister has already decided on convening an all-party meeting, indicating that it would be held soon.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee, Praful Patel of the NCP, Union Ministers E Ahmad of the IUML were present at the meeting along with senior Congress leaders A K Antony and Ahmad Patel.

The meeting was part of a consultation process with the constituents of the ruling alliance over ticklish issues such as bringing the post of the PM under the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog.

It has been convened at a time when the process of drafting the Lokpal Bill will be completed by June 30. Asked about his party's stance on the Lokpal, Abdullah said it would be known in Parliament. Sources said that some of the constituents had suggested the need for such a meeting for general coordination among the allies in view of the Monsoon Session of Parliament fast approaching.

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