In the first direct contact between the government and Team Anna, Law Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday met Arvind Kejriwal and discussed the Lokpal issue in the wake of Hazare’s indefinite fast.
The first meeting, since the crisis erupted on August 16 following the arrest of Mr. Hazare, between the two sides took place at the residence of Sandeep Dikshit, MP and son of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
Emerging out of the meeting, Mr. Khurshid told reporters that “the meeting was an attempt to understand what is happening and I hope something should happen as time is running out....Wanted to understand the reason for their agitation.”
Contact should be made at every level, Mr. Khurshid said.
However, Mr. Kejriwal, a key member of the Tean Anna said the talks with government has “begun” but maintained that there was no breakthrough.
“He (Khurshid) just called us for a meeting and asked who will come for discussions. I will go to Annaji and ask him, who will go for discussions,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
Pranab appointed negotiator
Mr. Kejriwal said Union Finance Minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee has been appointed as government’s mediator with Team Anna.
Announcing the government’s initiative, he said Mr. Hazare will decide as to who will represent his team in the talks with Mr. Mukherjee.
PM writes to Hazare
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who held discussions with Mr. Mukherjee and senior ministers A. K. Antony and P.Chidambaram, wrote a letter to Mr. Hazare requesting him to end his fast, which entered the second week today. He also told him that the government was concerned about his health.
In his letter, the Prime Minister told Mr. Hazare that government will ask the Lok Sabha Speaker if his version of the Lokpal bill can be sent to the Standing Committee, which is already examining the government’s Bill.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi had a meeting with Dr. Singh at his residence and discussed the strategy.
Akhil Gogoi, rights activist who attended the meeting with Mr. Khurshid along with Mr. Kejriwal, said the Minister told them that the Prime Minister wants to find a solution through talks and they talked about the process for the discussion with Mr. Mukherjee.
Mr. Gogoi said that Mr. Kejriwal and lawyer Prashant Bhushan may be nominated by Mr. Hazare to hold talks with the government and a final call will be taken by Mr. Hazare.
After their meeting, both Mr. Kejriwal and Mr. Khurshid declined to go into the specifics of the discussions they had. Both said just a beginning has been made. The Minister said that there was no discussion on issues, but only an attempt was made to understand what was happening and why they were so much agitated.