New Delhi: Gandhian Anna Hazare`s indefinite fast pressing for a stronger Lokpal Bill to check corruption entered the fifth day on Saturday, with team Anna hinting that they were ready to talk with the government. However, the Team Anna said that the government is yet to open its door for dialogues.
"We are ready to talk to the government but there is no communication from their side,” Hazare’s close associate Arvind Kejriwal said. Manish Sisodia, another close aide of Hazare asked, “Where should we go to talk and whom should we talk to?"
In a Congress core group meeting chaired last night by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hinted that it was ready to talk to Team Anna to find a midway, if approached formally.
“The government has no problem in holding talks with the civil society group led by Hazare if they express readiness,” highly placed sources in the Congress party informed.
The meeting was attended by senior Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram and AK Antony. Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel was also present in the meeting.
A number of Congress leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity said the government should re-engage Team Anna in talks.
Hazare had yesterday raised the political stakes by giving a deadline to the government to pass the Jan Lokpal bill by August 30, failing which he would continue his fast "till his last breath".
The civil society led by Anna Hazare have been demanding inclusion of Prime Minister, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament under the ambit of Lokpal.
The Hazare team is also demanding a strong public grievance redressal mechanism, lokayuktas at state-level and independent selection, funding and removal mechanism to ensure autonomy of function.
The Lokpal Bill cleared by the cabinet seeks to keep the office of the Prime Minister outside the purview of the ombudsman during his term in office and also exclude higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament.
The Lokpal, consisting of chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial, will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions.