The two politicians who managed to make Anna Hazare ponder over the possibility of a dialogue with the government have intertwined histories with Hazare and civil society.
Science and technology minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had convinced Hazare to end his fast on several occasions when he was Maharashtra chief minister, and Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit has had a long association with civil society before joining politics.
On Thursday, when the government agreed to hold a discussion on the Jan Lokpal Bill and other drafts in Parliament, the two emerged as the strongest troubleshooters for the government.
Deshmukh had a clear advantage over other government functionaries, including those from Maharashtra. He and Hazare belong to the same caste, Maratha Deshmukh, and he had developed a good rapport with Hazare during the latter’s agitations in Maharashtra.
Another advantage was that Anna Hazare’s grandnephew Vinayak Deshmukh is a Congress functionary at his home district Ahmednagar.
Deshmukh had started backdoor negotiations by first talking with villagers at Hazare’s hometown Ralegaon Siddhi.
“Some of them met Deskmukh last night after talks between the government and Team Anna failed,” a government functionary said.
Deshmukh also briefed PM Manmohan Singh and Congress leaders late at night. And on Thursday morning, he met Hazare with some people who had come from his village.
Deshmukh had a brief talk with Hazare in the absence of other Team Anna members.
Then he returned to Parliament with a message from Hazare to the PM. It was the first signal the government had received that Hazare may budge if the former agreed to discuss Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament.
Although Diskhit did not get much to do on Thursday, he was the one who brought Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal and Akhil Gogoi to the negotiating table on Tuesday with government representative law minister Salman Khurshid.
“There is lot of forward movement and I am hopeful that Annaji will end his fast,” Dikshit said.