There were indications that government might consider bringing the Prime Minister under the ambit of the anti-corruption ombudsman
Anna Hazare is awaiting a written assurance from the government on the Lokpal Bill issue before ending his indefinite fast which entered the ninth day as his team said that developments unfolding today will be “crucial”.
The Government and Team Anna held discussions for the first time last night and both sides agreed on a variety of issues leading to hopes of Mr. Hazare ending the fast.
“Anna will read every word of the written agreement when it comes. Rest assured he is not going to take any chances at all. Today is crucial. His health as well as government giving a written commitment for tabling and passing in current session the Jan Lokpal is important,” activist Kiran Bedi said.
Team Anna claimed that three issues still remain the sticking point as there were no agreement on citizen’s charter, inclusion of lower bureaucracy and setting up of Lokayukta in state through Lokpal.
There were indications that government might consider bringing the Prime Minister under the ambit of the anti-corruption ombudsman while differences persisted on other key issues during the inconclusive talks.
Last night’s negotiations capped a day of fast-moving developments which saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appoint Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as the negotiator and immediately thereafter three members of Mr. Hazare’s team met him.
After three hours of talks, Team Anna said they made it clear to the government that the official Lokpal Bill should either be withdrawn or allowed to lapse and the Jan Lokpal Bill should be introduced and passed in the current session of Parliament by extending it, if necessary.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hazare refused to be put on a intravenous drip despite doctors advising him to do so once again this morning, his close associate said.
Mr. Hazare on Tuesday disregarded doctor’s advice to be put on Intravenous (IV) drip and refused to take any medicine while warning the government against trying to forcibly evict him from the protest site of Ramlila Maidan here.
Team Anna has also rejected the Prime Minister’s offer to send the Jan Lokpal Bill to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. “We have told them that it is not acceptable,” Arvind Kejriwal, a close associate of Mr. Hazare, said yesterday.
The talks followed the Prime Minister’s letter to Mr. Hazare in which he appealed to him to end the fast saying he and the government have “abiding interest” in his health.
The Prime Minister’s initiative saw Law Minister Salman Khurshid meeting Kejriwal at a flat near East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit’s residence where it was conveyed that Mr. Mukherjee would negotiate with Mr. Hazare’s team.
Mr. Kejriwal said that during the discussions with Mr. Mukherjee it was conveyed that the basic principles of the Jan Lokpal Bill should be preserved and the Law Ministry should vet the draft in two-three days and get back to them.
“The Congress, UPA and the government should give a commitment that it will support the Bill and get it passed in this session itself, if required by extending it by two-three days,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
Prashant Bhushan, another Hazare associate, said the government appeared to have no objection to bringing the Prime Minister under the ambit of Lokpal, while on judges, the government promised they will bring a separate law and “show it to us”.
The civil society representatives claimed government has agreed that the anti-corruption wing of CBI will be under Lokpal and the corrupt acts of members of Parliament will be covered by the ombudsman even if it was in pursuance of a vote cast or speech made in Parliament which is now protected under Article 105.