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Oct 12, 2011 at 05:57pm IST

No backing down on Lokpal: Team Anna warns Govt

New Delhi: Team Anna on Wednesday welcomed the government's announcement that the Lokpal will be made into a constitutional body but cautioned that it won't tolerate any dilution of its stand on the anti-corruption bill's provisions.

"We will be happy if the Lokpal can be made into a constitutional body with all the provisions. But making it into a constitutional authority shall not prevent being made into a statutory body," Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan said.

"Since Congress and UPA are there to make the Act, they should ensure that the Act is being made. In the process of making a constitutional body, it should not happen that the whole things falls through," he warned.

Another Team Anna member Kiran Bedi said that Government's move to make the Lokpal a constitutional authority is a tactic to delay or avoid its passage and 'fool' the people.

"If government is serious on Lokpal, it should first pass the Bill by winter session. Constitutional status is a sure means to delay or avoid the passage of the Bill," Bedi said.

Bhushan and Bedi were responding to Law Minister Salman Khurshid's statement that the government intends to make the Lokpal a constitutional authority which will be 'more powerful' than the Election Commission.

"I said something else. I said what Rahul Gandhi has said is something we are inspired by. We want to pursue with that. Beyond that, I am not going into the details," Khurshid said.

Bedi said the plans to make Lokpal a constitutional authority was like "putting the cart before the horse. It's like, no bread (but) keep waiting for the illusionary cake. Who are they fooling?"

The move for a Constitutional body is a follow-up to the proposal made by AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi at last month's Lok Sabha debate on Lokpal.

The Opposition also asked the government to make its intention clear after Khurshid's statement on the Lokpal Bill.

"This is an attempt being made by the law minister to tow the Rahul Gandhi line on Lokpal formation. BJP demands instead of these political moves, the government should declare its intent clearly for bring about a strong Lokpal bill," BJP Chief Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Khurshid had on Tuesday said that a Constitutional Amendment Bill will be introduced for to make the Lokpal a constitutional authority in the winter session of Parliament.

"We are working on a very strong Lokpal Bill. A Lokpal Bill that will come with a Constitutional amendment. That amendment will give the Lokpal the status of a Constitutional authority," he said.

The non-judicial members in the anti-corruption body will be from civil society, including those who have worked on corruption issues and good governance such as those who have held high positions in investigative agencies.

Khurshid confirmed that the proposal was with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, Grievances and Department of Personnel.

The Law Minister said the proposal had not yet been formally considered by the Union Cabinet but the sense in the government and the party was for a Lokpal that will have Constitutional status.

(With additional inputs from PTI)