Home » » Anna wants PM, Rahul or senior minister as negotiator

Anna wants PM, Rahul or senior minister as negotiator

Monday, August 22, 2011 | 0 comments

New Delhi:  By this afternoon, the government had received two clear messages from Anna Hazare's anti-corruption demonstration at Ramlila Maidan: the national holiday was driving huge numbers to the activist's base camp (over 30,000 by afternoon); and that Team Anna wanted a senior minister, the Prime Minister or Rahul Gandhi to lead discussions for a possible truce with the activists. (Read: Who is Anna Hazare?) | (Read: What is Jan Lokpal Bill?) 
74-year-old Anna is on the seventh day of his hunger strike; he has lost five kilos; doctors continue to examine him regularly.  He repeated this morning that he will not end his fast till Parliament passes his version of the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill by August 30. The government's version of the Bill, introduced earlier this month in Parliament, has been attacked by Anna and other critics as a weak version designed to protect politicians and other public servants accused of graft. (Read: The Standing Committee looking into the Lokpal Bill)
The government spent the day stressing that it is open to discussions with Anna and his advisors.  Speaking at IIM Calcutta, the Prime Minister said for the second time in 72 hours that there should be a "reasoned debate" on the Lokpal Bill. (Read: Govt open to talks, PM reiterates) Law Minister Salman Khursheed said that while dialogue is necessary, "A solution to complex issues cannot be delivered within two-three days." The minister also said that members of the government will decide when and how that discussion should be initiated.  

The Prime Minister is expected to hold high-level meet on the Anna protest at 7.30 this evening. Sources have told NDTV that the government does not want to act in haste, but is concerned about the law-and-order situation.

Kiran Bedi, who is one of Anna's closest advisors, tweeted "Let govt come forward... Let PM send his representatives. Any negotiations are rumours."

However, it's clear that the government did try to break the ice on Sunday as crowds at Ramlila Maidan made it clear they have placed their faith in Anna to lead a sustained nationwide demonstration against corruption. Yesterday, the government deputed Umesh Chandra Sarangi, a senior bureaucrat from Maharashtra and spiritual leader Bhaiyyu Maharaj as its emissaries. Both men are from Anna's home state of Maharashtra and know the activist well.
But sources say Team Anna has made it clear that discussions with the government have to reflect the complex stature of a nationwide crisis; so a top minister, Dr Manmohan Singh or Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi need to meet them at the negotiating table.
The Lokpal Bill - or even a condensed version of its main features - is not what is drawing the thousands of housewives, students and office-goers. Most people say they have run out of patience with systematic graft; it is corruption in public offices at all levels that people are tired of battling in everyday life. In Anna and his protest, they have found a channel for their frustration. There is an unofficial dress code at Ramlila Maidan which pairs "I am Anna" t-shirts with the Gandhi topi that Anna is rarely seen without. The chorus rings out periodically as the crowd churns:  "Anna, tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhaare saath hain (Anna, you keep up the fight, we are with you)." 

Arvind Kejriwal, a member of Anna's core team, said today that the activists' aim is not to destabilize the government. He also denied allegations that by asking people to protest outside the homes of ministers and MPs, he is inciting hooliganism.  "We have simply asked people to protest peacefully," clarified Mr Kejriwal. Countering charges that Anna's movement is undermining Parliament and its right to legislate, Mr Kejriwal said, "What is democracy? It is not just voting once every five years and handing over your destiny to representatives.  It is day-to-day engagement with your representatives." (Read: Hooliganism charges against us false, says Kejriwal)
In Delhi today, a small group of people protested at the residence of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit; in Mumbai, a similar demonstration outside the home of Congress MP Priya Dutt provoked an unexpected response. "I'm in favour of a strong anti-corruption bill," Ms Dutt said. She also backed Anna's demand for the Lokpal Bill to cover both senior judges and the Prime Minister.  Both have been excluded from the government's draft. (Watch: Congress MPs offer support for Anna)

Share this article :


Post a Comment

| |
Copyright © 2011. Sarath The king - All Rights Reserved
Template Designed by Sarath