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Sibal favours law to define conflict of interest of MPs

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 3 (UNI) Alleging that the Opposition BJP still lacked a common stand on the "Office-of-Profit" issue, Union Minister and Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal today favoured a law to define conflict of interest for the MPs who are lawyers, medical practitioners and industrialists.

"I think the conflict of interest can be defined and I would favour a law based on consensus to deal with this. As it happens in the United States, if you are a businessman you have to sell or transfer your shares before you enter the Senate or House of Representatives," he said in BBC Hindi special programme "Aapki Baat BBC Ke Saath." Lawyers, doctors and industrialists seemed to be falling in the category of conflict of interest, Mr Sibal, who is also an eminent constitutional lawyer, said adding they should be asked to stop their work so long as they continue to be MPs so that they stayed above suspicion.

"...If you look at lawyers, they can continue their practice while being MPs and if they are not ministers. Now there are big industrialists who are lawyers' clients, they may be from the steel industry or from IT. Some matters related to their business may be raised in Parliament from time to time and the lawyer being an MP may comment on such an issue. It could be termed as conflict of interest," Mr Sibal said.

In this context, he said those who are seriously interested in public service have the right to be public representatives.

Attacking the BJP on the Office-of-Profit issue, Mr Sibal said the BJP leadership was speaking in many voices and the party was not clear about its stand on the issue.

He said the Congress and the UPA government would like to see what stand the BJP woud take on the Office of Profit bill when it would be debated in Parliament and "whether its MPs would then be voting to save Mrs Sonia Gandhi or themselves on the issue." Mr Sibal said there were contradicting stands among the BJP leaders on the Office of Profit issue with Party President Rajnath Singh favouring the passage of the bill with retrospective effect and Mr Arun Jaitley opposing it.

"They are themselves not clear about what stand they should take.

Their only issue was to target and attack Ms Gandhi." Asked if the UPA government was confident of smooth passage of the proposed bill to bring changes in the 1959 law on the issue, he said the government had already spoken to all the parties on this issue.

All the parties were in favour of bringing forward the bill at the earliest, but the BJP wanted the draft of the bill first.

He said the opposition parties had no problem now in getting the bill passed because Ms Gandhi could not be targeted any more on the issue.

In this context, he said the "Opposition had only one issue and that was Congress leader Mrs Sonia Gandhi. They feel that between them and power she was the only hurdle. So their gameplan was to remove Ms Gandhi from their path and they could go to any extent in this." She said the post of the National Advisory Council chairperson, which Ms Gandhi resigned following the controversy over dual post, was not an office of Profit.


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