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Hazare Fast: Signs Of Breakthrough

New Delhi, Aug 25: Signs of a breakthrough emerged tonight with the government being open to a discussion in Parliament tomorrow on key elements of Jan Lokpal Bill, a step forward towards ending the impasse
PTI August 25, 2011 22:57 IST
PTI

New Delhi, Aug 25: Signs of a breakthrough emerged tonight with the government being open to a discussion in Parliament tomorrow on key elements of Jan Lokpal Bill, a step forward towards ending the impasse with Anna Hazare. 

Hazare set three conditions to break his ten-day fast declaring publicly that all civil servants should be brought under Lokpal, a Citizen Charter should be displayed at all government offices and all states should have Lokayuktas. 

The 74-year-old Hazare said that if Parliament considered the Jan Lokpal bill and there was an agreement within the House on these three conditions, he would break his fast. 

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took the first step towards breaking the ice when he made an open offer in Lok Sabha that Parliament will consider the Jan Lokpal Bill along with bills proposed by others, including Aruna Roy and Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, and the record of the discussion would be sent to the Standing Committee.

He also applauded the Gandhian for his ideals, saying “I salute him. His life is much too precious and therefore, I would urge Hazare to end his fast.”

Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj supported Singh's appeal after which an unanimous appeal was made from the Chair by Speaker Meira Kumar.

On yet another day of hectic activities, the Prime Minister followed up his offer by holding consultations with his senior colleagues, including Pranab Mukherjee and A K Antony, to consider the demands raised by Hazare. He also met Home Minister P Chidambaram and Deshmukh separately.

The 74-year-old Gandhian made it clear to the Prime Minister through his emissary and Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh that he will consider ending the fast if Parliament starts discussing tomorrow morning and an "agreement" is reached on three key issues.

Deshmukh, the first ranking political leader from Congress who was roped in after last night's breakdown in talks, met Hazare at Ramlila Maidan this afternoon when the activist conveyed in writing to the Prime Minister his demands.

Late in the night, Mukherjee, who is the Leader of Lok Sabha, held discussions with senior colleagues, including Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal, to work out the wording of the resolution on which a discussion will take place.

Though there was no official word on what the motion would say and whether it would be under a rule which entails voting, it is believed that it would be in the shape of a document that will enlist the features of Jan Lokpal Bill along with the elements of those prepared by other civil society sections.

Notwithstanding some heated exchanges in the morning, both sides settled down to work on how to carry forward the dialogue so that a solution could be found and Hazare end his fast.

Reacting to Parliament's appeal to end his fast, Anna Hazare today demanded that Parliament discuss from tomorrow three key issues on Jan Lokpal and create an agreement, failing which he will not end his fast.

“I have sent a message to the Prime Minister. If you want to pass Jan Lokpal bill then start the discussion tomorrow morning. I have three demands. If there is support (for them), then I can consider ending the fast,” he said. 

In the morning, Mukherjee, the prime trouble-shooter for the government, briefed Congress Parliamentary Party where he said government's stress on respecting constitutional process and Parliament's sovereignty has been twisted to make it appear that it is against the anti-corruption bill. 

Mukherjee said attempts are being made to take over the legislature's business and when the government stressed on respecting the constitutional process and the sovereignty of Parliament, an impression was sought to be given that government was opposing the measure. 

On the other side, Hazare's key associate Arvind Kejriwal accused Home Minister P Chidambaram and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal of trying to nullifying the entire dialogue process and said they have become victims of Congress' “internal politics”.

Stating that they were ready to hold talks in a “honest and sincere manner”, he alleged that Chidambaram and Sibal were taking a strong stand forcing the government not to enter into a compromise with them on the Lokpal Bill. PTI