Lok Sabha will discuss on Saturday the issues arising out of various versions of the lokpal legislation including social activist Anna Hazare’s three key demands, on the basis of a statement that will be made by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, political parties agreed after protracted negotiations.
Mukherjee is likely to refer to the three sticking points and assure Hazare that these would be considered by the parliamentary standing committee. Prashant Bhushan, a Hazare aide, said “mere discussion” on the three issues is not good enough, but “a clear indication or commitment from parliament is required for Anna to break his fast.”
The Congress made it clear that a discussion under rule 184, which provides for voting at the end of the debate, would be required only if there are two options to choose between. “Here the question is only about taking them on record and passing on to the standing committee,” a Congress negotiator said.
The BJP had given notice for a discussion under 184, but later settled for a statement by either the PM or Mukherjee followed by a discussion.
The government is understood to have taken some opposition leaders into confidence on the wording of the statement, which could possibly be one of the most significant steps so far to persuade Hazare to end fast.
A parliamentary discussion on the issue was deferred on Friday, as the government and Opposition could not agree on modalities. Through the day, the government negotiators held talks with political parties and associates of Hazare on how the House could bring on record the three demands that the activist insists are non-negotiable.
In a letter to the PM on Friday, the 11th day of his fast, Hazare reiterated his three main demands of including the lower bureaucracy, citizens charter in the lokpal bill and a single legislation for setting up the anti-corruption watchdog at the Centre and in states.
“My conscience tells me that I should end my fast once there is unanimity in Parliament on these issues,” he wrote.
Science and technology minister Vilasrao Deshmukh continued to be in touch with Hazare, though both sides revealed little on what transpired.
Another mediator, Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit, hinted the crisis would end soon, but gave no timeframe.
The government and Team Anna were engaged in hectic consultations past midnight to try and arrive at a mutually acceptable formulation in Mukherjee’s opening statement.
Dikshit and Hazare aides Bhushan and Medha Patkar were at the meeting held at law minister Salman Khurshid’s residence.