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Updated: April 8, 2011 11:14 IST

Govt talks tough on Hazare’s demands

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Union Minister Kapil Sibal and social activist Swami Agnivesh address the media in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
The Hindu
Union Minister Kapil Sibal and social activist Swami Agnivesh address the media in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Government on Friday talked tough on Anna Hazare’s demand for an effective Lokpal Bill, saying it cannot accede to the demands of chairmanship of the joint drafting committee being given to a civil society member and for issuing an official notification.

A meeting of HRD Minister Kapil Sibal with activists Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal scheduled this morning did not take place with both sides saying they were waiting for each other. The meeting is now scheduled at 6 p.m.

Mr. Sibal said only government officials will be members of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill and that no minister will be part of it, if they insist on the chairman being from the civil society.

“There is no possibility of an official notification on the constitution of the joint committee but we have told them that we are willing to give an official letter through the law ministry and a press note,” he said

Mr. Sibal said he was waiting along with his ministerial colleague Salman Khurshid for Gandhian Hazare’s supporters -- Arvind Kejriwal and Swami Agnivesh -- this morning but as they did not turn up, he called them on phone.

When Swami Agnivesh asked him about the position of the government on the notification issue, Mr. Sibal said, “I told him our position remains the same.

“It is not possible for the government to issue a notification with respect to constitution of a joint committee. However, we are willing to issue an official letter through a department of the government, may be the law ministry and, of course, through a press note,” he said.

Mr. Sibal said it was not possible for the government to accept that the chairman of the joint committee should be a member from the civil society.

“All other conditions and all other points are acceptable to us,” the minister said.

“If you insist that a nominee of your side is a chairman of the joint committee, in that event the constitution of the committee will not consist of ministers from our end but it will consist of officials of government of India in which eventuality you can have your nominee as chairman of the joint committee,” he said.

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