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“Centre vacillating on drafting of Lokpal Bill”

Shoumojit Banerjee



Nitish Kumar

Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday criticised the Union government for ‘vacillating' on the drafting of the Lokpal Bill and refused to give his recommendations on it. He sought an immediate clarification of the Centre's final stand on the Bill.

In a written response to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Mr. Kumar said that views of stakeholders, including Chief Ministers, were being solicited “at an inchoate stage despite the Centre not yet firming up the contents of the Draft Bill.”

In his letter, Mr. Mukherjee sought the response of Chief Ministers, among other stakeholders, on six vital counts by June 6.

He expressed surprise that the response of Chief Ministers and other stakeholders on such a vital issue was being sought in an extremely “casual and hurried manner.”

“It is incredible that recommendations have been asked in a question-and-answer format. This is certainly not the way to solicit suggestions on such issues,” Mr. Kumar told journalists after a Cabinet meeting.

He further noted that the Finance Minister's letter, dispatched by fax to the Bihar Resident Commissioner in New Delhi (on 1/6/2011) was “neither properly numbered nor dated.”

Mr. Kumar said that the stage to seek the views of Chief Ministers could arrive only after the draft bill was ready and made available to the States.

Giving a view at this stage would be premature and not in consonance with the country's constitutional spirit, Mr. Kumar said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister came out in full support of yoga expert Baba Ramdev's much-publicised fast set to commence on Saturday.

“He is absolutely doing the right thing,” said Mr. Kumar, adding that any individual or organisation had a right to put forward their thoughts within a democratic framework.

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