Adopt more rational approach on Lokpal: PM to Anna

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made it clear that Parliamentary democracy cannot be undermined.

New Delhi: Asking Anna Hazare to adopt a "more rational approach" with regard to his demand for a strong Lokpal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday made it clear that Parliamentary democracy cannot be undermined.

Responding to a letter from former Chief Justice JS Verma, Singh asserted that it is only after "due deliberation" that a law can be passed that not only meets the aspirations of the people but is also "practical and effective".

Virtually rejecting the August 30 deadline set by Hazare for passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill, he said, "It is the bounden 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."

The Prime Minister asked Verma to use his good offices to urge Hazare and his supporters "to adopt a more rational approach in dealing with this complex problem".

Singh`s letter came after talks between government and Team Anna ended in a deadlock last night with two sides failing to resolve sticky issues, prompting the civil society to declare that they were "back to square one".

Hazare`s fast entered the tenth day today amid mounting concerns over his health and his team accusing "some strong elements" in the government of nullifying the entire dialogue process. Noting that Verma`s letter mentions that the rule of law is the bedrock of democracy, the Prime Minister said, "I cannot
agree more except to say that our great Constitution has served this country very well through difficult times and we should do nothing that in any way undermines the parliamentary democracy of which the country is so proud."

Agreeing that in an inclusive democracy every section of civil society has a participative role in governance, including that of policy making, Singh said he has no difference with Verma`s proposal that the views of the entire civil society must be presented along with the government draft of the Lokpal Bill to the Parliament for consideration.

"However, Anna Hazare ji 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," Singh added.

Maintaining that he was as "pained" as Verma at the corruption faced by the citizens in many of their dealings with the Government, he said the country is agreed on the necessity and urgency of remedial action to curb corruption.

"It is a complex problem and we have to act on a number of fronts. The Right to Information Act was one such landmark measure that we took and it has had a salutary effect. But much more needs to be done and the problem has to be tackled from different angles and at different levels," Singh said in the letter yesterday, a day after he wrote to Hazare requesting him to end his fast.

The Prime Minister also agreed that Hazare has rendered a great public service by mobilising public opinion against corruption.

Singh in his letter to Hazare on August 23 had reiterated Government`s intention to pass the best possible Lokpal legislation with inputs from civil society and on the basis of the broadest possible consensus.

"I said that the matter was with the Standing Committee and that the Committee was entitled to consider not only the Bill introduced by the Government but the Jan Lokpal Bill and other versions like those prepared by Aruna Roy as well.”

"....I also said that the Government can formally request the Standing Committee to fast-track its deliberations to the extent reasonably feasible, subject to its discretion and the necessity to reflect deeply and spend adequate time on such an important bill”.


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