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PM appeals to Anna to end fast

On the eighth day of Anna Hazare`s agitation, a concerned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday directly reached out to him with an appeal for ending fast and a promise that his Jan Lokpal Bill could be considered by Parliament.



New Delhi: On the eighth day of Anna
Hazare`s agitation, a concerned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
on Tuesday directly reached out to him with an appeal for ending
fast and a promise that his Jan Lokpal Bill could be
considered by Parliament along with the government draft.

In a letter to Hazare, Singh said the government would
request Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar to refer the Team Hazare
bill to the Parliamentary Standing Committee which would then
be formally asked to "fast track their deliberations to the
extent reasonably feasible".

Singh said his government`s objective with regard to
tackling corruption was "identical" to that of Hazare and was
ready to talk to anybody to enact a "constitutionally-valid
and the best possible Lokpal" while keeping in mind the
Parliamentary supremacy and Constitutional obligations.

"Over the last few days, I have watched with increasing
concern the state of your health," he wrote to the civil
activist who is fasting at Ramlila Ground for a strong Lokpal.

"Despite the differences between the Government and your
team, I do not think that anybody is or should be in any doubt
about the deep and abiding concern which I and our Government
share about your health, arising from your continuing fast,"
the Prime Minister said.

The letter is actuated by the "twin considerations of
deep and genuine concern about your health and the emergence
of a strong and effective Lok Pal Act in accordance with
established constitutional precept and practice," Singh said.

"I do hope that you will consider my suggestions and end
your fast to regain full health and vitality," he wrote.

About the issues for which Hazare is fasting, Singh said,
"I have maintained that your and our object is identical viz.
to reduce significantly, if not eliminate, the scourge of
corruption from this country.

"At worst, our paths and methodologies may differ, though
I do believe that even those differences have been
exaggerated."

The Prime Minister underlined the government`s commitment
to passing a "constitutionally valid and the best possible Lok
Pal legislation with inputs from Civil Society with the
broadest possible consensus" for which "we are ready to talk
to anybody."

However, "we will have to keep in mind Parliamentary
supremacy and constitutional obligations in matters of
legislation. As a Government we respect and are responsible to
the will of the Indian people as represented by Parliament,"
he said.

Noting that the Lokpal Bill is now before Parliamentary
Standing Committee, Singh said, "I have made it clear earlier
and would like to restate that all options are open before the
Standing Committee."

Undoubtedly, the Committee would be entitled to consider,
in detail and clause by clause, "subject to their discretion,
not only the Bill introduced by us but the Jan Lokpal Bill and
other versions like those prepared by Ms. Aruna Roy", the
Prime Minister wrote to Hazare.

"Equally, I do maintain that they (Committee) are fully
entitled to make any changes to the Bill introduced by the
government and referred to them," he said, adding "In that
view of the matter, the formal non-introduction of the Jan
Lokpal Bill version by the government is irrelevant and would
largely boil down to a semantic debate."

"Nevertheless, in view of the concern repeatedly
expressed by your team that the Jan Lokpal Bill version should
be before Parliament, but more particularly and more
importantly, in view of my deep and abiding concern for your
health, our government is prepared to request the Speaker, Lok
Sabha to formally refer the Jan Lokpal Bill also to the
Standing Committee for their holistic consideration along with
everything else," Singh wrote to Hazare.

"If you have any anxieties about time and speed, the
Government can formally request the Standing Committee to try,
subject to its discretion and the necessity to reflect deeply
and spend adequate time on an important Bill, and fast track
their deliberations to the extent reasonably feasible," the
Prime Minister said.

Singh told the Gandhian that "we need your views and
actions in the service of the nation, from a robust physical
condition and not in the context of frail or failing health."

The Prime Minister`s letter came at a time when an
informal channel of communication was opened between the
government and the Hazare team to end the impasse caused by
the civil activist`s hunger strike for a strong Lokpal Bill.

PTI

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