Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday had a meeting with some of the senior Congress leaders, including Ministers, to take stock of the situation arising out of the fast by anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare.
Immediately on his return from Kolkata, Dr. Singh exchanged views with the Congress core team on the fast-moving developments, especially the growing support for the anti-corruption campaign from sections of society.
A senior leader conceded that the government has a tough situation to deal with. He, however, maintained that it was not practical to expect any dramatic move to meet the “unreasonable demands” made by Team Anna.
With Parliament scheduled to resume its session on Tuesday and the nationwide protest called by nine political parties, including the Left, for Tuesday, the government is preparing to face a strident Opposition in both Houses.
“The Prime Minister has already gone on record that the government is ready for a debate on the subject of corruption in Parliament. If there is a debate and the exigencies of the situation warrant, Dr. Singh will respond,” the leader said.
In his address at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Indian Institute of Management (Calcutta) during the day, Dr. Singh dwelt at length on the issue of corruption, saying that it was wrong to argue that it was the consequence of the economic liberalisation.
As for the debate on need for a strong Lokpal, Dr. Singh said: “It has long been argued that we need an institution like the Lokpal. We have introduced a Bill in Parliament, which is now before the Standing Committee. There are differences of view on the details of the Bill. We have made it clear that all individuals concerned should convey their concerns on different aspects of the Bill to their representatives in Parliament and to the Standing Committee. The Committee has the power to propose any amendment. We are open to a reasoned debate.”