'We will not rely on administrative measures alone'
Bowing to the Opposition's demand, the Union government assured the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that a political solution would be found to end the impasse arising out of anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare's refusal to be released from the Tihar Jail until he was allowed to begin fast at the Jai Prakash Narain Park.
The government decided to allow Mr. Hazare to mount his indefinite fast, but under some conditions related to the venue.
Replying to the debate on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said seeking a review of the magistrate's order remanding Mr. Hazare in judicial custody for seven days and ensuring his immediate release was a political decision. The government would stick to a political process and not rely on administrative measures alone.
Responding to Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav's supplementary, Mr. Chidambaram said the government would be dispassionate, unbiased, just and sincere in handling Mr. Hazare's case.
However, he made it clear that the decision would be implemented by the Delhi Police as per the law. Mr. Hazare, he argued, had the “undoubted” right to protest but subject to conditions imposed on him as required under the law.
Outlining the three options open to Mr. Hazare, Mr. Chidambaram said he could either go back to the police and renegotiate the conditions, or approach court arguing that the conditions were unreasonable or violate the law and allow the police to take action. Mr. Chidambaram hoped that he would go to court challenging the conditions imposed on him, and the government would accept any judicial order.
Mr. Chidambaram denied any government involvement in the arrest of Mr. Hazare and justified the police action, stressing that the Criminal Procedure Code provides for preventive detention on the basis of apprehension of breach of peace or violation of prohibitory orders.
In this context, he pointed out that the arrest of BJP leader L.K. Advani when Lalu Prasad was Chief Minister of Bihar was a preventive measure, based on the apprehension of breach of peace.
Earlier, Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj objected to the Home Minister's reply and said the Prime Minister alone was expected to reply to his statement.
Presiding Officer Inder Singh Namdhari agreed with the objection, but urged them not to insist upon a reply from the Prime Minister.