All parties took decision, which is above politics: Sibal

New Delhi, Dec. 17,: Pleased with the Lokpal Bill being passed in the Rajya Sabha, Law and Justice Minister Kapil Sibal, on Monday said the credit for the passing of the bill goes to all parties and added that it was the government’s intention to pass the bill with a full consensus.

“We had taken a decision to pass this bill in the current session. Party vice president Rahul Gandhi in his press conference had conveyed the party’s intention of passing the bill. And we moved forward accordingly. We wanted the bill to be passed with full consensus,” said Sibal.

“I would like to congratulate all the members of the parliament for their support. Everyone has equally contributed and took a decision which is above politics. So, the credit goes to all parties,” Sibal added.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ravi Shankar Prasad welcomed the bill and said, “There was a debate on the Lokpal Bill has been going on for the past 60 years. But today, the bill has been passed for an effective and model Lokpal. There was a consensus among the member of the select committee of the Rajya Sabha,”

Prasad also said the bill could have been passed in December 2011, had there been an agreement on it.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O’Brien said, “Our only issue was that the Lokayukta must be run and administered by the state governments. So, in December 2011, we mentioned that all these clauses should be removed in all the amendments. At that time they did not listen to us.”

“But now this has happened. So, it is called the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, but in reality it is Lokpal Bill. The Lokayukta is the responsibility of the state government. So, we are glad that it was passed at least now,” he added.

Communist Party of India (CPI-M) Sitaram Yechury too welcomed the bill and said the bill could have been better had the amendments moved by his party were accepted.

“Well this is a good first step. But it could have been better, if they had accepted our amendments. Those who indulged in corruption will be checked but we want those who supply funds should also be checked upon. This was unfortunately not done. Unless you do this, you will not be combat corruption in real comprehensible sense,” he said.

“We missed an opportunity to make Lokpal a more effective and stronger institution. But I am sure experience will teach us a lesson. This correction should be made in the future. But if it is not done, then I think both government and principal opposition are complicit that they have left such important point,” he added.

The Bill is to be taken up in the Lok Sabha tomorrow.

After the Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha, veteran social activist Anna Hazare said that he would end his fast after the bill is passed in the Lok Sabha tomorrow.

He requested all members of Lok Sabha to pass the bill tomorrow. “This is the demand of the public,” he said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the passing of Lokpal Bill by the Rajya Sabha was a historic step.

The government has agreed to incorporate a key amendment demanded by the opposition BJP, which allows searches or raids by the CBI or police on an officer accused of corruption without notice.

The proposed anti-graft law provides for a Lokpal or national ombudsman to investigate corruption charges against public functionaries.

Earlier, Law and Justice Minister Kapil Sibal had urged all parties to rise above politics and pass the “historic Bill”.

The BJP’s Arun Jaitley, the Leader of Opposition, backed the proposed law, but added that it was important to have state level authorities, or Lokayuktas.

Hazare had said corruption would be reduced by half if the Bill is passed and made into law.

The Congress Party expressed its gratitude to Hazare for appreciating the party’s efforts in the passage of the Lokpal Bill.

Congress leader Ajay Maken said: “Anna Hazareji has appreciated the commitment of Rahul Gandhiji on this issue. We welcome Anna Hazareji’s appreciation and Congress party thanks Anna Hazare for appreciating Rahul Gandhiji for his commitment to fight against corruption and to bring in transparency into the functioning of government,” said Maken.

On December 14, Rahul Gandhi had urged all the political parties to support government’s Lokpal Bill in their fight against corruption.

However, remaining firm on his decision, a leader of the Samajwadi Party, Ramgopal Yadav said he would not support the bill.

“It is an irony that we can trust the ombudsman in the proposed ombudsman bill but not the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister will be interrogated by an officer, which is at a similar position as that of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The result of this would be that any officer or minister would be scared to sign on a file related to correct decisions. If such a situation arises in the country then it will be dangerous for the nation. That is why we had opposed the bill and are still opposing it,” said Yadav.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Prakash Javadekar had said: “We want Lokpal to be passed. I think (the) Congress does not want that to happen smoothly. Let’s see today; we have our parliamentary party meeting after that we will speak to you.”

The Lok Sabha had passed the Lokpal Bill in 2011 to create a Central Lokayukta.

Transparency’s landmark 2005 study of corruption in India found that as many as 62 percent of all citizens have had first-hand experience in paying bribes or using influence peddling to get jobs done in public offices. (ANI)