New Delhi: The stand-off between government and Anna Hazare continued for the fourth day as the Congress, Friday, blamed the civil society activists for the delay in the process of constituting a joint committee to redraft the Lokpal Bill aimed at curbing corruption.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital, party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “The government has conceded to every substantiate demand made by the civil society members. They are unnecessarily delaying the process of constituting a joint panel for redrafting the Lokpal Bill. I want to make an appeal to them to end their agitation and join hands with the government in finding a solution to this issue.
Observing that the supporters of Anna Hazare were "obstinate", Singhvi asked the supporters of Anna Hazare to strengthen the hands of government, contending that "all the substantial and real issues" had been resolved.
Singhvi made it clear that Hazare's "impossible" condition of notifying the formation of a joint committee to draft Lokpal Bill could not be accepted by the government as it "cannot abdicate" its Constitutional responsibility.
"Let us work together. All substantial and real issues have been resolved," Singhvi told reporters here, sending out a message to Hazare who has been sitting on a hunger strike for the last four days to press for Jan Lokpal Bill that will have stringent provisions to fight corruption.
He also cautioned that no one should try to jeopardise the health of the 71-year-old social activist.
“It is the duty of all those who are supporting Hazare’s movement to be concerned of his deteriorating health. He is an important member of our society and his valuable suggestions have always helped the government in formulating policies and its implementations,” he said.
On Hazare's condition for notifying the formation of joint committee, the Congress spokesman said, "No government can abdicate its Constitutional responsibility by accepting
the impossible condition."
“A precedent cannot be set by conceding to the unreasonable demands made by the other camp and having a panel under the civil society. I want to ask everyone how can a democratically elected minister work under a member appointed by the civil society? Who will take the responsibility when the bill comes to the cabinet for approval and later introduced in the Parliament. Will the civil society members come to approve it then?”
“If we concede to such demands then what is the guarantee that tomorrow any X, Y or Z group will not make similar demands and try to blackmail the government, “ Singhvi questioned.
However, Singhvi cleared the air on the composition of the joint committee to redraft the Lokpal Bill and said that there will be five members each from the government and the civil society.
On the issue of appointing a member from the civil society as the chairman of the joint panel, Singhvi said, “The demands to appoint a civil society member as the chairman of the panel is quite impossible. The government proposes to appoint the Union Law Minister as the chairperson and the convenor of the above panel. This is in line with then provisions enshrined in our constitution, which puts the government and the council of ministers responsible for effective implementation of laws passed by Parliament.”
The Congress leader also told reporters that the Lokpal Bill will be introduced in the upcoming Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
Singhvi concluded by making a final appeal to the supporters of the movement to see reason.
First Published: Friday, April 08, 2011, 17:53