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Find ways to include activists' opinion: PMO

To dissuade the veteran Gandhian Anna Hazare from going on an indefinite fast, the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday directed the ministries of personnel and law to examine how the views of civil society activists can be included in the lokpal bill. Nagendar Sharma reports.

delhi Updated: Mar 10, 2011 00:37 IST
Nagendar Sharma

To dissuade the veteran Gandhian Anna Hazare from going on an indefinite fast, the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday directed the ministries of personnel and law to examine how the views of civil society activists can be included in the lokpal bill.

The PMO, in a letter to the minister of state for personnel V Narayanswami and Law minister M Veerappa Moily, has asked them to take steps to follow-up the Prime Minister's meeting with the 10 representatives of the organisation -India Against Corruption (IAR).

"Kindly take steps to form a sub group from among the Group of Ministers already working on the lokpal bill for a meeting as early as possible with Anna Hazare and his colleagues," the PMO stated in letter.

The PMO is keen for a meeting before April 5, the date set by Hazare for beginning his fast at Jantar Mantar in the capital. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had on Monday evening agreed to introduce the lokpal bill during the monsoon session of Parliament this year.

The assurance was given to a high level delegation which apart from Hazare included former police official Kiran Bedi, Magsaysay award winner Arvind Kejriwal, former law minister Shanti Bhushan and social activist Swami Agnivesh.

Though the activists accepted Singh's assurance, but differences persisted on the nature of powers to be given to the proposed lokpal. Hazare termed the meeting with the PM "bad."

He said: "We want a joint committee of citizens and ministers for the formulation of a strong Lokpal bill, but the government does not agree."

The IAR has said in a release that Hazare would go ahead with his fast in case the government did not take substantial and effective steps till the April 5 deadline.

"The onus is on the government, since we have made our stand very clear," said Swami Agnivesh.

The activists have already rejected the draft lokpal bill, saying it would "rather encourage corruption than discouraging it."