Centre says it's ready for talks with Anna Hazare

With more members of civil society and various political parties lending support for Anna Hazare's fast, which entered the second day on Wednesday, the Centre said it was ready for a dialogue with the anti-corruption crusader and was open to suggestions on the Lokpal Bill.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Hazare wrote to the Prime Minister stating that he was pained that the government, rather than addressing the issue of corruption, was trying to allege conspiracies where there was none. “At a time when the country has witnessed scams of an unprecedented scale, the impatience of the entire country is justified. And we call upon you not to look for precedents but show courage to take unprecedented steps,” the social activist said in his letter.

Speaking to journalists here, Communications and IT Minister Kapil Sibal said: “The government was ready for a constructive dialogue on the issue. His [Mr. Hazare's] demand is fair… we also want the Lokpal Bill with teeth. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi are also committed to this cause.”

Mr. Sibal, who is also part of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on corruption, said the government should be given “reasonable time” to find a way out. “They want to be part of the drafting committee for the Bill… we have conveyed this to the Prime Minister. The government should be given reasonable time… they cannot bind the government,” he added.

Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said the government was open to suggestions even though it was anxious to introduce the Bill in the next session of Parliament. “Even on their demand for a joint committee [for drafting the Bill], we said we were open to the idea. In principle, we did not say no,” Mr. Moily added.

On the other hand, the Congress said the Prime Minister had already initiated a mechanism to consider suggestions from civil society activists for the Lokpal Bill. Describing Mr. Hazare's fast as “premature,” party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said the Bill had been discussed in the party and by the Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council (NAC), which was drafting an alternative bill.

Meanwhile, support continues to pour in for Mr. Hazare, who is observing fast at Jantar Mantar here. The BJP and the CPI(M) as well as organisations and popular Bollywood stars are rallying behind the activist. Actor Aamir Khan wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to “pay heed to the voice of Mr. Anna Hazare.”

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 6:57:29 am |