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Updated: August 25, 2011 01:38 IST

Lokpal talks break down

Gargi Parsai
Comment (28)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
(Top): Social activist Anna Hazare addressing supporters on the ninth day of his fast at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Below): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chairs an all-party meeting on Lokpal at his official residence in New Delhi. Photos: Sandeep Saxena/Atul Yadav
The Hindu/PTI (Top): Social activist Anna Hazare addressing supporters on the ninth day of his fast at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Below): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chairs an all-party meeting on Lokpal at his official residence in New Delhi. Photos: Sandeep Saxena/Atul Yadav

Back to square one, says Team Anna as government hardens stance

Negotiations between the government and Team Anna on the Lokpal Bill broke down on Wednesday night with the latter describing the third round of talks as “retrograde.” They said social activist Anna Hazare's fast on the Ramlila grounds here — now in its ninth day — would continue until the government agreed to enact a law creating a strong and effective Lokpal during the current session of Parliament.

Amidst speculation that the anti-corruption crusader might be forcibly shifted to hospital on Wednesday night, the government nominees are reported to have told Team Anna during the meeting that Mr. Hazare's fast was “his problem.” However, in a late night address to supporters on the Ramlila Maidan, Kiran Bedi, a key member of Team Anna, said she had been assured by senior police officers, whom she trusted, that Mr. Hazare would not be forcibly removed and hospitalised until such time doctors declared there was a threat to his life.

Charging the government with not being serious about bringing in a strong anti-corruption law, Team Anna said there was a “complete change in the attitude” of the government nominees represented by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Law Minister Salman Khursheed at their meeting on Wednesday evening.

“The government has taken a U-turn and has now asked us to give our objections to the government's Lokpal Bill and draft a new Bill, taking everything back to square one,” they said.

Team Anna representatives Ms. Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal said that during their meeting on Tuesday the government nominees seemed to agree on the substantive issues raised by them and said they had a problem only with three sticking points regarding parallel formation of Lokayuktas in States, inclusion of lower bureaucracy and citizens' charters in government departments.

“They had also agreed to introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament. But today [Wednesday] they went back on everything and said you submit a new draft that will be sent to the Standing Committee,” said Mr. Kejriwal.

“Contrary to the impression they gave yesterday, today they said the parliamentary procedure of the Standing Committee, etc. cannot be short-circuited. There was no clarity on the timeline,” said lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who was present.

When Team Anna's negotiators sought to know if the government planned to remove Mr. Hazare from the fast venue, the government side said it was not competent to answer that question, Mr. Kejriwal said.

Speaking to journalists after the 90-minute meeting, Mr. Mukherjee said the all-party meeting held on Wednesday requested Mr. Hazare to end his fast. Due consideration would be given to the Jan Lokpal Bill in the final Bill, he said, adding the parliamentary process involving the Standing Committee must be completed.

Sources indicated that the change in the attitude of the government came after a “stormy” meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs on Tuesday night in which some Ministers involved in the joint drafting panel objected to its caving in to Mr. Hazare.

Earlier, Mr. Hazare declared that he had fasted for nine days and was fit to continue his hunger strike for another nine days. After a late evening check-up, doctors attending on him said he was stable. “I am energised by the large presence of people,” he told his supporters.

“The Jan Lokpal Bill is nothing but ensuring power to the people. Unless there is decentralisation of power, there will not be true democracy.”

Among those who met Mr. Hazare was National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy, who said she had come to enquire about his health. Activist Medha Patkar, yoga guru Baba Ramdev and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar also met Mr Hazare.

Despite a flurry of political activity during the day including the all-party meeting, there was little progress at an earlier meeting Team Anna had with Mr. Khursheed giving an indication of things to come.

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To save democracy, let us oppose Anna Hazare

from:  K.R.Rajan
Posted on: Aug 26, 2011 at 02:04 IST

If this movement gets success in bringing the corruptS into jails, then it will be the encouragement to other countries people to follow the same path. So, I have strong support to this movement and suggest Mr. Anna, the hope of millions people of the world - STOP NOT TILL THE MISSON IS ACCOMPLISHED. WE ARE WITH YOU. People are dying of hunger. Our so called political leaders are busy in collecting the black money. It is an inhuman act. It should be stopped. If this time it is not successful,our generation will do unforgiveable sin to coming generation.

from:  Bidur Kharel
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 19:23 IST

I'm not surprised about talks breaking down. This is not a simple problem to resolve by one person's fasting. The more rules and laws we put forth, the more opportunities we are creating for the attorneys and courts to drag this on forever. Let's open our eyes and look around. The constitution and the judicial system are the two pillars of our democracy. Are we saying we will give powers to an NGO to become the third pillar? No way! If nothing else, we need to bring a change in the constitution to impeach and dissolve a government if found guilty of corruption. How about legalizing Lobbying?

from:  Veerappan.K
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 08:25 IST

After 10 days terrific consultation outside and inside parliament,the situation is still not reached to a compromise.Govt says their bill is not sufficient,but they cannot withdraw the bill.No leaders in Govt and opposition talking responsibly . All are watching and waiting to catch fish. This is a situation like Human Bomb and helpless democracy.All of our national leaders failed to take the country into confidence. Whatever the situation is emerged by corruption , this is not the way deal the country.We are not Libya or Egypt.Corruption is an issue,no doubt.But we lacking good leaders in govt and opposition.A country like India,with failed issues of terrorism and main enemies waiting both sides of doors,small countries are waiting for India's help for a greater regional stability,how can India drag issues like a person's fast, or terror updates.....all govt departments engaged only in emergencies...no ministry is functioning ....this will cause the nation on pause.

from:  Rajeev
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 08:01 IST

I do not see any point in continuing with the talks when the Congress,in it's usual style, takes U-Turns like this. Team Anna should continue the agitation till the shameless government buckles. Or else this agitation should be timed before an election.

from:  S N IYER
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 07:48 IST

The Govt. needs to resign and Parl. should agree for a re-election. team Anna supporters can stand in election and bring about the Bill.

from:  R G Krishnan
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 07:41 IST

Seems like these Govt people won't listen to the voices of the people. All they care about is saving their skin and the sources of their parallel income. Maybe we do need to topple the Govt

from:  Aritra Gupta
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 07:40 IST

There is no question that corruption needs to be eradicated root and branch. But the methodology of Anna cannot be supported and the democratically elected Parliament cannot be held to ransom by any individual or group, however good-intentioned it might appear to be. Anna should give up the fast threat and allow the democratic process to take over. There can be no compromise on this basic premise.

from:  Prof. V. Nageswara Rao
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 07:06 IST

It appears as though no Lokpal Bill will ever be passed. The Standing Committee procedure is to ensure that the Bill is shelved. As regards Anna's fast, it will end when his condition will become serious. The agitation will fizzle out and the thieves will have their way. The Congress (the mother of corruption in this country) can not be expected to so easily agree to having a Lokpal. Let us change the electoral system first and ensure that the Congress never comes into power again.The DMK has learnt it's lesson and now the TMC and NCP will soon learn their lessons.The era of coalition dharma will end for the Congress.Regional parties are using Congress as a stepney to gain power in the States and then make money by corrupt means.YSR had a similar plan but luckily the helicopter accident put a spoke in his plans.

from:  S N Iyer
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 07:03 IST

The central ministers and the MPs are the most untrustworthy people and they do not want to take any action to the betterment of the average citizen. Though I live in the USA, I can understand the pains of the common man in the grip of corruption. Anna Hazare should be worshipped as the saviour to bring this untrustworthy elected members to the limelight. We have lost respect for eveyone including Manmohan Singh and their hypocracy is exposed by now God alone can save India and all patriotic citizens can win the battle if we stand united and fight.

from:  S Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 06:59 IST

Parliament vis-a-vis all the political parties have lost the confidence of the people of India by now. Mainly for their act of omissions and commission on the issue of India against corruption. The writing on the wall is that the people of other countries are joing hands to fight against their own governments on the evil of corruption on the model of Gandhian thoughts. Our Parliamentarians are directionless and still dream for some miracle to happen to save their vote banks. Anna Team be congratulated for their legal acumenship in preparing the fresh draft within hours after complying with the the philosophical sermons from the custodians of rule of law. Time is running out not for Anna and his Team but for the champions for the cause of supremacy of Parliament.

from:  A. Patrawala
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 06:28 IST

The all party meeting has emboldened the Government on one important point of common interest to all parliamentarians.That they are averse to being pushed to a corner by the 'unreasonable' demand,setting time limit for the passage of the bill, and that in the 'unlikely' event of the passage of a STRONG LOK PAL BILL,none of them will get credit!.Hence the Government,finds it convenient to the politically acceptable stand that, Hazare's fast was 'his problem' (read,Citizens sufferring from the after effects of 'Rampant Corruption' is their problem).

from:  Kandasamy Koomarasamy
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 06:24 IST

The Indian Government should act soon to overcome the stalemate situation. Each Day of Anna's fast would put more pressure and credible decisions may not be feasible.

from:  Pradeep Nimma
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 06:19 IST

Earlier the PM,Salman et al were very solicitous about Anna's health saying the Government was very concerned about Anna's condition and urging him to give up his fast.Overnight they have become so callous as to inform Team Anna that his fast was his problem.They are exhibiting their bravado just to keep their own morale from flagging and also giving their lackeys and sycophants a false sense of security when they themselves are literally shaking,all the while having a lurking feeling that pretty soon the people will rise in revolt as the citizens of Egypt and Libya did.It is time that this government which has been taking the people for granted and also for a ride be given a taste of PEOPLE POWER and not only thrown out lock,stock and barrel but the protagonists all be charged with treasonous activities including grand larceny and every other crime conceivable and prosecuted to the full extent of the law with maximum punishment with no parole or remission.

from:  Raj Kumar
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 05:59 IST

This is the fight for the soul of India. One earnestly hopes that good sense prevails and a tough anti corruption mechanism emerges. The point is that the appetite for corrution has now no limit. As India peers into future to be a world player, it cannot hope to do so without good laws, adjudication and enforcement. The Indian soul speaks through Team Anna and his supporters. The camp which prefers status quo keeps spinning, lying and bringing up red herrings. The issue is to curb corruption by placing efficient legal mechanisms against it and the opportunity is 'Now'.

from:  Dr. Ajay
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 05:43 IST

It is utter waste to ask the theives to frame law againt theft

from:  sunil
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 05:34 IST

This is nothing but Govt.is buying time so that the people's spirit slowly may fade away.They know the history well and how to control later on when the movement is weak due to fatigue.

from:  Ashok
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 05:23 IST

Annaji, please do take care of your health and that is most important thing than the Lokpal. Our government cannot live without corruption and I understood immediately (after reading the news that Mr. Pranab as the government nominee and he is thousand times worst than the trio (Chidambaram, Ambika Soni and another guy), who were very vocal about the team and the Lokpal bill) that the discussions will not go anywhere. Please don't think that we have lost, if nothing happens, after ending your fast. Our population will teach this government and all elected members a bitter lesson in next elections and even if they distribute all the black money, they get from Swiss banks to secure free votes. I am sure that we will be the most corrupted country in the whole world and may be first in next few years. These politicians will not leave anything from trash to nuclear energy and make money out of it and if ordinary person doesn't pay taxes, he or she will be awarded capital punishment.

from:  Sesha
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 05:13 IST

It was an expected outcome of the Drama enacted through the Finance minister. Right from the beginning UPA Government as well as the Anna team were obstinate. While the Government wanted that the Jan Lokpal be opposed and defeated, the Anna team required that their version only is the precise solution. Once it was realised that the agitation is gaining strength and mass-support, an emissary was sent, reluctantly, to quieten the movement, before the deadline of August 30. In the interest of the Nation, I feel that both sides should relent to achieve a mutually acceptable, strong Lokpal Bill.

from:  Dr. K.V.Mallan
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 04:58 IST

The people of India have indicated to the Manmohan Singh government in no certain terms that they support the civil society activists in their fight against corruption.Does the government care? No. The most admired and respected man in India today, Anna Hazare, has fasted already for nine days and his medical condition is worrying the country. Does the government care? No. Is this sheer stupidity on the part of the government or is it as sign of its mortal fear of a strong Lokpal? It could be both!

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 04:31 IST

Going by this report it is evident that the government is determined to pursue its policy of shifting goal posts in the hope that it will frustrate Team Anna and its supporters and ensure that the anti- corruption movement fizzles out. It is unfortunate that the congress government at the centre has not learnt any lessons from history. P.V.Narasimha Rao, could have prevented the Babri demolition but chose not to do so. Rao spoke very little. The only difference between Rao and Dr.Singh is while the former acted on his own free will with no super boss directing him, the latter has no such privilege.In the minds of the ordinary citizen who wants to be freed from the chains of a highly corrupt system by making the best use of the present opportunity, never before seen in Independent India, the government is hell bent to create chaos by postponing a sensible action and shift the blame on the civil society activists and their followers, for the consequences, that are still avoidable.

from:  Shekar
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 04:18 IST

I urge political class and specially government to be circumspect on its stand on Anna's movement. Please do not wait for his medical condition to deteriorate further before taking an acceptable stand. I believe Government has to bow down to the fair demands by Anna ji, but why it is delaying in wishful thinking. Anna's idealism and its tremendous public response seems to have created political void and shook entire feeble political class. I want to remind them to come to the terms of reality and accept the truth. It is the time to be introspective rather than reactive in defence. I wish political parties will take it as opportunity to gain public confidence by doing rather than promising.

from:  Arvind Bhabhra
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 04:17 IST

Can the government be trusted which goes back and forth in it's stances and delays so that important issues be forgotten? Unless we see action from Government officials and spirited acceptance of the fact that corruption needs to be rooted out of India, we need this momentum to go on in one form or the other. Thanks Anna for initiating this.

from:  Senthil Kumaran
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 04:01 IST

It is Really very SAD to see such a corrupt POLITICIANS (ALL PARTIES) who do not want to pass the powerful anti-corruption law. They all know that 90- 95% of their wealth is from under the table. They are worried , if such a law comes into action then they won't be able to make money. Mother India and all those who laid their life to free India would be hurt to see such a Politicians. I support Mr.Anna Hazare/ Mr. Arwind K/ Mr.Shanti Bhushan and Mrs.Kiran Bedi against their fight against corruption.

from:  Rohit
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 03:45 IST

I don't think that the government is not serious about this issue. They are dead serious - in trying to enact a policy with sufficiently wide doors to escape corruption charges.

from:  Siva
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 03:45 IST

Govt is using the tactics of delaying to diffuse the situation. This way Anna gets hospitalized, the public looses interest and 3 months from now, they will frame Anna and discredit his character and the public will forget this ever happened... If only we can find a way to sustain this awakening and go at it.. I am hoping with PM, HM and Sibal being pulled into the 2G scam as witnessed get charged with not following the telecom protocol. This way we can have elections again and all the independent candidates win the election.

from:  Kanda
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 03:11 IST

Like many other concerned citizens, I too have tried making sense of government's dealings concerning (jan)lokpal bill. But the sad observation has been that the govt. still lies confused about the state of affairs and had been undoubtedly fickle in its stand. By now, they have tried almost everything ranging from mudslinging and incarcerating Anna to providing him with a place to protest as per his terms. This current step back from government side appears to be again a political gambit to buy time before either Anna could be hospitalized and force-fed or the issue becomes so ingrained in public consciousness that it loses its patriotic fervor and the momentum of masses starts dwindling.
I strongly opine that with due respect to constitution and necessary parliamentary proceedings the govt. should make conscious effort to consider Janlokpal's clauses in good faith. As till now, it has been really disgrace to watch the political leaders evading probity in world's largest democracy.

from:  Himanshu Gupta
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 03:02 IST

I think some compromise is required between both parties. While the members of Team Anna party are passionate about their cause, they should remember one thing: When Gandhiji fasted, it was against a foreign power; now it is our own people, and our own government. The aim of both parties should not be to just win and achieve their ends, but to come up with an efficient system that promotes efficiency, and thus reduces corruption too. Essentially, it is inefficiency of our systems that promotes corruption, an efficient system can bring out irreregularities to the fore thus can be remedied. I am confident something concrete will emerge from this effort, but we all have to work together, not just point fingers.

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Aug 25, 2011 at 02:49 IST
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