Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saluted the idealism of fasting social activist Anna Hazare in a televised speech to Parliament on Thursday in which he urged him to end his hunger strike. Standing committee will consider all options including Jan Lokpal Bill, he said.
"He has become the embodiment of our people's disgust and concern about tackling corruption," Singh said of the ailing 74-year-old, whose populist campaign has put intense pressure on the government.
"I respect his idealism. I respect him as an individual... I applaud him. I salute him."
But Singh asked all MPs to unite in requesting Hazare to halt his fast for stronger anti-corruption legislation.
"He has made his point," the prime minister said. "His life is much too precious."
Singh's public and emotional appeal came as talks between Hazare's aides and the government appeared deadlocked, and amid mounting concerns over the campaigner's health as he entered the tenth day of his fast.
Singh said he was of the view that "this will meet the point that Anna Hazare and his team have been making that Parliament must have a chance to debate the Bill drafted by them. This is one via media which will respect Parliament's supremacy and enable Parliament to take on board the Jan Lokpal Bill," Singh said.
He said he had given thought on the issues raised by Team Hazare in "great depth".
Lauding Hazare, Singh said he had "made his point and that has been registered with us. I respect his idealism. He is the embodiment of people's disgust with corruption."
Amid thumping of desks, he said Hazare should live a long and happy life in the service of the people.
"I respectfully request him to end his fast. This will be a befitting finale of the debate on corruption," Singh said.
Swaraj supported the Prime Minister's appeal and said the nation was committed to bringing a strong and effective anti-graft legislation.
Reflecting the sentiments of the House, the Speaker hoped that Hazare would get the unanimous message of the Lok Sabha and end his fast.
Contending that the government would "work with single minded devotion to leave behind for posterity" a bill to meet the challenge posed by corruption, Singh said "we are open to all suggestions and we will work with all sections for a strong and effective Bill on which there is a national consensus."
He said the government has a bill that reflects its thinking. But "we are open to persuasion and have an open mind."
Singh took strong exception to personal attack by the Opposition that he was "conniving with corruption" and asked Leader of the Opposition to check his assets to see whether he had made any money.