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Salman Khurshid says, nothing could come out of talks with Hazare

PTI 19 Sep 2012, 13:35:17 IST
New Delhi, Aug 3: Law Minister Salman Khurshid, who has so far maintained silence on his meeting with Anna Hazare over a month ago, today lamented that nothing could come out of the talks.

“It was a perfectly sane conversation...the conversation was enjoyable. But unfortunately nothing could come out of it, and I am sad nothing could come of it. If something had come of it, I would have been the happiest person,” Khurshid told reporters here.

While he has acknowledged meeting Hazare on June 23 in Maharashtra, this is for the first time he has spoken about the conversation he had with the activist.  

The minister also made it clear that during the meeting neither he nor Hazare had promised anything to each other.  

“...I did not promise anything, he did not promise anything. To be fair to him, he did not promise anything.”

In an article he has written for ‘Tehelka'magazine, Khurshid said Hazare has always insisted on bringing all government servants under Lokpal; establishment of both Lokpal and Lokayukta; and the need for a Citizens' Charter.  

“During my meeting with Anna, he reiterated this and I explained that we had already taken care of these: all groups are included; both Lokpal and Lokayukta were included in the Bill, but because of objections by states, we have agreed to provide a model legislation for Lokayukta, and that the Citizens' Charter is provided in a separate legislation,” he wrote.

Hazare, according to Khurshid, wanted this in writing and thereafter, he would announce his support for the government's effort at a press conference.

Khurshid said Minister of State in PMO V Narayanasamy put the things on record based on a draft that Anna had seen and accepted.

“We still don't know if there is anything in the letter he disagrees with except to say he does not accept that he helped in trying to reach a consensus. He seems to speak one language when he is alone and another in the company of IAC members,” he wrote.

He said Hazare had asked him to keep the meeting a secret “till we succeed in our efforts.”

“Subsequently, he even told the interlocutors that he did not care if the IAC members found out about the meeting. Yet when they did, by receiving the letter by an innocent slip, Anna went ballistic, saying it was a conspiracy to break his movement. The long and short of it is that I had shared the information with our side (how else would the letter be sent?) But he seems to have kept his colleagues in the dark,” he wrote.

Referring to the letter, he told reporters that Hazare said it was sent to a wrong person. “Why would I think (Arvind) Kejriwal is a wrong person?...it would be an eye-opener,” he said.

He blamed the messenger for the “slip” and said it was delivered at the IAC office as the group is associated with Hazare.

On the issue of Lokpal, the minister said government will have to take Parliament into confidence and it alone cannot get the measure passed. “We can't stand alone and say if you don't want to vote, don't vote...that is not possible,” he said.

Referring to Team Anna's Jan Lokpal, he said several “liberals” feel that the proposal is not possible.