Parliament agrees to Anna’s Lokpal demands
Both the houses of the Parliament issued a statement supporting the formulation of a strong Lokpal Bill.
New Delhi: Both the houses of the Parliament -- Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha -- on Saturday issued a statement supporting the formulation of a strong Lokpal Bill.
The statement issued on behalf of the House in principle agreed to the three key demands made by Anna Hazare led civil society group which has been agitating for the Jan Lokpal Bill.
The three key demands -- that the lower bureaucracy be brought under the purview of the Lokpal, appointing Lokayuktas in the states, and that a citizen`s charter for government departments be worked out along with timelines -- had become a bone of contention between the government and Team Anna.
The statement was read by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the House after a lengthy debate on the Lokpal issue. Dubbing the resolution as `Sense of the House`, Mukherjee referred the matter to the Standing Committee.
The rare move by the Parliament came after major political formations Congress and BJP got together in a bid to end the stalemate arising out of Hazare`s campaign against corruption.
Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha went out of their way to discuss in a special sitting on Saturday an issue thrown up by the campaign of the 74-year-old activist who has been demanding enactment of Jan Lokpal for which he started a fast since August 16.
While the government was initially not agreeable to Team Anna’s demand for voting and adoption of a resolution, saying the debate was a general discussion, Team Anna’s hard stand forced the government to adopt a unanimous statement accepting all three demands put forth by him.
After Parliament expressing its `sense`, the Prime Minister said, "Parliament has spoken. The will of Parliament is will of the people."
Communicating with Hazare, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveyed to him that Parliament has passed a resolution on the three issues raised by him and appealed to him to call off his fast. The Prime Minister’s emissaries Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sandeep Dikshit showed him a copy of the resolution passed by both the houses of the Parliament and conveyed the message of the Prime Minister.
Reacting to Parliament`s action after Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh handed over Singh`s letter, Hazare announced to the cheering crowds in Ramlila Maidan that "I wish to break my fast tomorrow at 10 am".
"This victory of Jan Lokpal bill is a partial victory. A full victory is yet to be achieved," he said while noting that the Parliamentarians have respected his three demands.
"I congratulate them and express my gratitude to all the MPs," he said as celebrations broke out at the protest venue with crowds setting off fire crackers and dancing to the beating of drums and tunes of Lokpal anthem.
Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister and government`s chief negotiator, said he was happy that the impasse had been resolved which was created by fasting of Anna Hazare.
Winding up the day-long debate, Mukherjee said while a "respected" Gandhian with "massive support" was on agitation, it was not always necessary to move in "conventional straight jacket way".
After the `Sense of the House` passed, Mukherjee said "I do feel that on the basis of that, we can request Shri Anna Hazare to end his fast so that the so-called conflict between civil society, Parliament or political parties" ends.
He asserted that Parliament was supreme and law-making was its domain alone while others could give suggestions.