Cong MPs give Lokpal notice in LS; new crisis emergesAgencies
Debate on all versions of Lokpal Bill is likely to be held on Saturday, according to report on Friday. The modalities of the resolution and debate is reportedly being worked upon even as Anna Hazare's indefinite fast for a strong Lokpal entered the 11th day on Friday. Three Congress MPs Jagdambika Pal, Anu Tandon and Sanjay Nirupam have given notice to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar for Jan Lokpal Bill debate under Rule 193, which does not entail voting. Earlier in the day, parliamentary affairs minister P K Bansal said a discussion on Janlokpal bill as demanded by Anna Hazare may not be possible in Lok Sabha during the day but added that nothing can be ruled out.
Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare speaks during a rally at Ram Lila grounds in New Delhi. Hazare......
"I am not saying that there will be no discussion but it looks less likely today because of other businesses, including private members' bill," he said.
Asked whether this meant that there will be no discussion, the minsiter said "no, I am not saying that. There will be a discussion but it has to be decided when and how to do it."
Meanwhile, Team Anna stuck to its stand saying that Anna Hazare will not call off his fast till the government sends a written assurance on the three sticky points whereas the government wants Hazare to promise he will end fast once the debate begins in Parliament.
According to TV reports, the government has asked Team Anna to redraft its Jan Lokpal Bill.
On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assurances on Thursday on a discussion in the House and the situation in view of the deteriorating health of Hazare, he said, he would also like the Gandhian to call off his fast.
Asked whether he rules out the possibility of the discussion today, Bansal said he was not ruling out such a possibility because it can be worked out and if a decision is taken, media will get to know.
"I hope Anna's health does not deteriorate further and he breaks his fast. The Prime Minister appealed emotionally to him yesterday that the nation is with you. What more can Parliament do," he said as the Gandhian's fast for a strong Lokpal entered the 11th day.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi has met the Prime Minister reportedly to discuss the Lokpal Bill issue.
Very few social activists have captured the attention of Indians across the globe as Anna Hazare did during his "fast unto death" over the issue of the Lokpal Bill in New Delhi in April 2011. Hazare, a Gandhian by belief, outlook and practice, has become the face of India's fight against corruption. During his fast over the Lokpal Bill, Hazare, a quintessential traditional Indian by looks and mannerism, managed to inspire and mobilize the support of even the ultra-modern Indians - Indians for whom the word "social" only means having a profile on social networking sites. The "Anna Hazare fast" can be described as the first real "social networking movement" in India. Hazare, a former Army man, began his social activism from Ralegan Siddhi, a village in Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra, where he successfully led a movement against alcoholism and made Ralegan Siddhi a "model village". Hazare's campaign was instrumental in the implementation of the Right to Information Act in Maharashtra, which is considered one of the best RTI Acts in India. A Ramon Magsaysay award winner, Anna Hazare, like his idol, Mahatma Gandhi, has triggered a debate over the use of fast as a means of protest in India. By sheer commitment and simplicity, he has demonstrated that Gandhian principles are relevant even in the 21st-century India.
Anna Hazare has his way, govt agrees to debate his Lokpal Bill demands in Parliament
Hopes of an end to anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare's fast brightened on Thursday as the government agreed to a Parliament debate on his demands related to the Lokpal Bill.
Debate on Anna's demands on Friday
Sources said the government was ready to initiate a Parliament debate from Friday on Hazare's three demands: the inclusion of lower bureaucracy under Lokpal, a citizens' charter and setting up of state Lokayuktas.
The debate will take place under Rule 184 and will be followed by a resolution passed by the House, in which many of Hazare's demands may eventually get included.
3 versions of Lokpal Bill to be debated
Law Minister Salman Khurshid said Parliament will also discuss three versions of the Lokpal Bill. These are Hazare's Jan Lokpal Bill, National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy's version of the Lokpal bill and another version presented by Andhra Pradesh MLA Jayprakash Narayan.
"We will discuss three versions of the bill and we are hopeful that all the sticking issues will be sorted out," Khurshid said.
Anna's fastThe Parliament debate, however, does not mean that Hazare will end his fast immediately. Hazare's associate Kiran Bedi said the social activist will not end his fast till the three key issues flagged by his group are resolved.
"Anna, as I heard, will end his fast only if resolutions on the three issues are passed by Parliament," Bedi tweeted.
Hazare's associates and the government had been locked in hard bargaining for several days over the three contentious issues, but without success. After a complete breakdown of talks on Wednesday night, Hazare on Thursday hinted that he could end his fast if the government agreed to initiate a Parliament debate on his demands.
"I can consider ending my fast, if there is consensus on the three issues we have raised. A discussion should start on Lokpal from tomorrow (Friday) in Parliament," he told the gathering at Ramlila Maidan.
But Hazare made it clear that the protests at Ramlila Maidan would continue. "Even if I end my fast, my dharna will continue till all my demands are accepted by the government," he said.
The fasting Gandhian had earlier sought a written assurance from the government that the three contentious issues be discussed in Parliament in a time-bound manner. Team Anna meets BJP leadersHazare's team met BJP leader L.K. Advani on the eve of the Parliament debate and claimed that the party broadly agreed to their views on the Jan Lokpal Bill.
"The meeting was positive. We exchanged our concerns," said Kejriwal.
BJP chief Nitin Gadkari said, "The BJP backs Anna's campaign against corruption in and outside Parliament. We appeal to the government to resolve the crisis."
BJP leader Arun Jaitley said that the discussions were held on resolving the crisis within the ambit of the consitution. "Their approach towards the talks was constructive. If the government is sincere, all issues can be resolved," Jaitley said.
Team Anna warns of 'Dilli Chalo' stir
Hazare's associates had in the morning accused "some strong elements" in the government and the Congress's "internal politics" of nullifying the entire dialogue process on the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Arvind Kejriwal, a key associate of Hazare, warned of a 'Dilli Chalo' campaign. "If there is no resolution by Saturday, we will give a call to people across the country to come and camp in Delhi until the Jan Lokpal Bill is passed," Kejriwal said.
While Hazare's team threatend to intensify its agitation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar appealed to him in Parliament to call off his fast.
Be rational: PM to Hazare
Singh urged Hazare to adopt a "more rational approach" with regard to his Lokpal Bill demands.
Rejecting Hazare's deadline for passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill, he said: "It is the duty of Parliament to pass a law only after its members have had reasonable time and opportunity to hear a wide range of public opinions and apply their minds to its various provisions."
Singh agreed that the views of the entire civil society must be presented along with the government draft of the Lokpal Bill to Parliament for consideration. "However, Anna Hazareji and his supporters insist that the Jan Lokpal Bill, which perhaps reflects one section of views, must be passed in this session of Parliament itself and without referring it to the Standing Committee," he said.
Can't trust govt: Anna
Hazare thanked the government for showing its understanding in the House and for saluting him for his efforts. But he added that he did not trust the government.
"I suspect the intention of the government. It says something and does something else. If the government really appreciates my efforts, why did it wait for me to fast for 10 days? Why did it not do anything six months ago when I raised the matter?" he asked.
Hazare questioned the Opposition parties for their silence on the Lokpal issue. He called upon the people to continue picketing MPs. "I request people to gherao homes of all MPs," he said.
Anna writes to PMResponding to Singh's appeal in Parliament, Hazare wrote a letter to the prime minister. It was carried to Singh by Congress leader Vilasrao Deshmukh, who had been rushed to the Ramlila Maidan to engage Hazare.
Singh discussed the ongoing crisis with Deshmukh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Law Minister Salman Khurshid.
Chidambaram, Sibal played spoiler: Team Anna
Stating that they were ready to hold talks in an "honest and sincere manner", Hazare's associates had in the morning alleged that Home Minister P. Chidambaram and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal's tough posturing caused the breakdown of talks on Wednesday night.
"It appears there are some strong elements in the government who want to nullify the entire dialogue process... We were told that during a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA), Chidambaram and Sibal were completely opposed to any kind of agreement or any kind of dialogue," said Kejriwal.
"We are becoming victims of Congress's internal politics. Day before yesterday, the talks were positive, but (Law Minister) Salman Khurshid told us that there was a lot of fighting in the CCPA meeting. Chidambaram and Sibal said in the meeting that there should be no dialogue with us and we should be tackled with a tough hand," he alleged.
'Who do we talk to?'Hazare's team said it was no longer clear who they should talk to. Kejriwal said if the CCPA and government can "ignore" the views of a senior leader like Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the government's chief negotiator, then who should they talk to.
According to activist Kiran Bedi, "Who should we talk to? Who is in control? We can talk only if there is somebody who is capable of making decisions. Who will take the decisions? Today in this country, who do we speak to?"
Khurshid hardens stand
But Law Minister Salman Khurshid maintained that the government was always willing to talk. "The government is willing to talk. We have opened the path. If they want to talk, they can talk," he said.
Reacting to Bedi's comments, Khurshid said, "We were talking to them. If they have doubts, find somebody else."
Khurshid said the government was deeply concerned about Hazare's health and its "door wide was open for discussions".
Rahul Gandhi concernedCongress general secretary Rahul Gandhi said he was concerned over the Lokpal logjam.
On the other side, the prime minister said "nothing should be done to undermine Parliamentary democracy".
I will not die till we get Lokpal Bill: Anna
A resolute Hazare on Thursday addressed the crowd at Ramlila Maidan again. "I am sure I will not die till we get Lokpal Bill. There is nothing to worry about my health," he said.
Hazare had on Wednesday night urged his supporters at Ramlila Maidan not to stop the police in case he was forcibly evicted and instead turn their protest to picketing of MPs' homes.
"My appeal to you is to please maintain peace. If they evict me, please don't stop them. If you stop them, violence may break out. We will maintain calm. Doesn't matter if I have to go to jail," Hazare had said.
Anna down 6 kgNaresh Trehan, head of the team of doctors monitoring Hazare's health, said on Thursday evening that he was stable but had lost six kg.
"Anna Hazare has lost six kg and there is need to keep a strict vigil on his health. The team of the doctors will keep monitoring his health the entire night," Dr Trehan said. .
Manish Tewari apologises to HazareCongress spokesperson Manish Tewari apologised to Hazare for calling him "corrupt" and urged him to call off his indefinite fast. "I know some of my recent utterances have hurt Mr Hazare. I regret the same and I would like to appeal to him as a citizen of this country to end his fast," Tewari said. "In the course of political cut and thrust, certain things are inadvertently said, which cause pain," he said.
Team Anna distorting facts: Pranab
Pranab Mukherjee said in Lok Sabha that Hazare's representatives were "distorting" facts on Wednesday night's discussions. He denied saying that Hazare's fast was the problem of the civil society.
"I appealed to him to break his fast," Pranab said, adding that the "nation requires a robust and healthy Hazare".
"What has appeared was totally distorted. No (such) word was said. I did not say a word (to that effect)," he said.