Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s surprise offer to discuss the Jan Lokpal Bill — prepared by the team led by social activist Anna Hazare — in Parliament sent his government into an overdrive to pull out all stops to end Hazare’s 10-day-old fast.
The government has agreed to a discussion on all four versions of the draft lokpal legislation, including the government’s draft, social activist Aruna Roy’s, NGO Loksatta leader Jayaprakash Narayan’s and the Jan Lokpal Bill on Friday. (Four drafts in Parliament today)
But the parliamentary modalities remained to be worked out. Government sources said the Lok Sabha would forward all the documents to a standing committee that is already seized of the matter.
This appears to have pacified Hazare to some extent but he is still continuing the fast. He said he would consider ending his fast if a discussion on his team’s bill takes place in Parliament.
The development marked a distinct improvement in the situation from Wednesday night when Hazare’s associates had virtually walked out of negotiations with the government.
“Let us see how the discussion in Parliament goes,” said a member of Team Anna’s core committee. It was an extempore speech by the Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha that created an environment of conciliation between the government and Team Anna.
“I respect his idealism. I respect him as an individual. I applaud him. I salute him. His life is much too precious and therefore I would urge Shri Hazare to end his fast,” Singh said.
He invited the House to issue a joint appeal to Hazare to end fast. Leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj supported the move, following which speaker Meira Kumar appealed that he end his fast.
Earlier, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi also expressed concern over Hazare’s health.
The government roped in science and technology minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to re-establish contact with Team Anna. The previous association of Deshmukh, a former Maharashtra chief minister, with Hazare came in handy for the government as he met Hazare at the Ramlila Maidan.
After the meeting, Hazare wrote to the Prime Minister, demanding that three key issues be accepted. “I have sent a message to the Prime Minister: If you want to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill then start the discussion tomorrow (Friday) morning,” Hazare told supporters at the Ramlila Maidan.
Hazare reiterated the three conditions to break his 10-day fast — declaring publicly that all civil servants would be brought under the lokpal, a citizens' charter would be displayed at all government offices and all states would have lokayuktas.