Grappling with the situation arising out of Anna Hazare’s fast, government today held hectic consultations to find a way out of the logjam with Team Anna demanding that it mandate somebody officially for opening a political dialogue on the Lokpal issue.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee held talks with senior ministers, including Sharad Pawar and Vilasrao Deshmukh, both of whom are from Maharashtra, where Mr. Hazare hails from.
Mr. Hazare had gone on fasts when Mr. Deshmukh was Maharashtra Chief Minister. Maharashtra Additional Chief Secretary U.C. Sarangi had held three rounds of talks with Mr. Hazare in the last few days and has now gone back to Mumbai.
The parleys Mr. Mukherjee held with Mr. Pawar and Mr. Deshmukh come close on the heels of the talks Mr. Sarangi, as also spiritual leader Bhaiyyuji Maharaj, had with Mr. Hazare. The spiritual leader is considered close to Mr. Deshmukh.
The meeting between Mr. Mukherjee and the ministers was held soon after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a detailed meeting with Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, looking into the Lokpal Bill earlier today.
Sources said the meeting discussed various options to end the impasse over the issue as Mr. Hazare’s fast entered the eighth day today.
An all-party meeting has been convened tomorrow to discuss the Lokpal issue.
Mr. Singhvi had on Monday said that differences between the government and Mr. Hazare on Lokpal Bill were more to do with methodology rather than content and maintained that the Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel was open to all kinds of opinions and inputs to send a strong and acceptable to all Lokpal Bill back to Parliament.
Congress member Praveen Singh Aron has already submitted a copy of Hazare’s Jan Lokpal Bill for consideration of the Committee.
Civil society activist Arvind Kejriwal has stated that the government should mandate somebody officially for a political dialogue as this is not a technical issue.
“There has to be a political solution rather than saying go and make your case to the Standing Committee. That is not the way,” Mr. Kejriwal told reporters.
He said officially they have not got any proposal from the government.
Asked about various proposals being talked about, Mr. Kejriwal said, “There are two options. The government can withdraw its bill and introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill or the government can bring amendments to the existing bill. The government should make a list on the points it agrees or disagrees on“.
However, Mr. Kejriwal said Mr. Hazare has not insisted that he will talk only with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.