Discussions in both Houses after statement: Pranab

Pranab Mukherjee, the government`s chief interlocutor with Team Anna, renewed his appeal to Anna Hazare to end his fast.

New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the government`s chief interlocutor with Team Anna, on Friday said he will make a statement in Lok Sabha on the Lokpal issue on Saturday followed by discussions in both houses and renewed his appeal to Anna Hazare to end his fast.

"There should be a discussion in both houses. I will have to make a statement in the beginning," Mukherjee told reporters here late Friday night.

"On that basis of the statement, the discussions will take place," he said after a Congress strategy meeting at the Prime Minister`s office late Friday evening. The meeting was attended by senior ministers Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Pawan Kumar Bansal.

"We are repeatedly appealing to Anna Hazare to end his fast. I am repeating that appeal," Mukherjee said as Hazare`s fast continued for the 11th day.

Mukherjee, also Leader of the House, will make a suo motu statement on the Lokpal issue in the Lok Sabha 11 am on Saturday immediately after the house assembles for the day`s sitting.

In a bid to finalise the government`s strategy to end the impasse, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held consultations with Pranab Mukherjee and Vilasrao Deshmukh, Science and Technology Minister and a former chief minister of Maharashtra, who are negotiating with Hazare and his associates.

They are understood to have discussed the contours of the opening statement Mukherjee will make in the Parliament in a last-ditch effort to mobilise across-the-party consensus to break the logjam.

The discussions took place after Anna Hazare made it clear in a letter to the Prime Minister that a mere discussion on the Lokpal issue in parliament will not help and it has to pass a resolution indicating that the Lokpal Bill covers three sticky issues. The hardening of standby Team Anna has reduced chances of an imminent breakthrough.

"There is no rule for such a debate and it will be on the statement of the minister," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said, indicating that there will not be voting.

The BJP has given a notice for a discussion under rule 184 in Lok Sabha and rule 167 in Rajya Sabha that entail voting.

IANS

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