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Manmohan Reaches Out To Anna Hazare

PTI 23 Aug 2011, 19:33:48 IST

New Delhi, Aug 23:   On the eighth day of Anna Hazare's agitation, a concerned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today directly reached out to him with an appeal for ending fast and a promise that his Jan Lokpal Bill could be considered by Parliament along with the government draft.

In a letter to Hazare, Singh said the government would request Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to refer the Team Hazare bill to the Parliamentary Standing Committee which would then be formally asked to “fast track their deliberations to the extent reasonably feasible”.

Singh said his government's objective with regard to tackling corruption was “identical” to that of Hazare and was ready to talk to anybody to enact a “constitutionally-valid and the best possible Lokpal” while keeping in mind the Parliamentary supremacy and Constitutional obligations. 

“Over the last few days, I have watched with increasing concern the state of your health,” he wrote to the civil activist who is fasting at Ramlila Ground for a strong Lokpal. 

“Despite the differences between the Government and your team, I do not think that anybody is or should be in any doubt about the deep and abiding concern which I and our Government share about your health, arising from your continuing fast,” the Prime Minister said.

The letter is actuated by the “twin considerations of deep and genuine concern about your health and the emergence of a strong and effective Lok Pal Act in accordance with established constitutional precept and practice,” Singh said.  “I do hope that you will consider my suggestions and end your fast to regain full health and vitality,” he wrote.

About the issues for which Hazare is fasting, Singh said, “I have maintained that your and our object is identical viz.  to reduce significantly, if not eliminate, the scourge of corruption from this country.

“At worst, our paths and methodologies may differ, though I do believe that even those differences have been exaggerated.”

The Prime Minister underlined the government's commitment to passing a “constitutionally valid and the best possible Lok Pal legislation with inputs from Civil Society with the broadest possible consensus” for which “we are ready to talk to anybody.”

However, “we will have to keep in mind Parliamentary supremacy and constitutional obligations in matters of legislation. As a Government we respect and are responsible to the will of the Indian people as represented by Parliament,” he said.

Noting that the Lok Pal bill is now before Parliamentary Standing Committee, Singh said, “I have made it clear earlier and would like to restate that all options are open before the Standing Committee.”

Undoubtedly, the Committee would be entitled to consider, in detail and clause by clause, “subject to their discretion, not only the Bill introduced by us but the Jan Lokpal Bill and other versions like those prepared by Ms. Aruna Roy”, the Prime Minister wrote to Hazare.

“Equally, I do maintain that they (Committee) are fully entitled to make any changes to the Bill introduced by the government and referred to them,” he said, adding “In that view of the matter, the formal non-introduction of the Jan Lokpal Bill version by the government is irrelevant and would largely boil down to a semantic debate.” PTI

Manmohan Singh's Letter To Anna Hazare