Team Anna, Govt talk but logjam persists

Deadlock continued between the UPA government and Team Anna over the Lokpal issue after two rounds of meeting between the two sides in the day failing to reach at a consensus.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Deadlock continued between the UPA government and Team Anna on Wednesday over the Lokpal issue after two rounds of meeting between the two sides in the day failing to reach at a consensus on key issues.

The issues on which the differences remained included a single law providing for Lokayuktas in states, bringing Prime Minister, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs in Parliament in the ambit of Lokpal, coverage of all civil servants, definition of Lokpal and selection process of Lokpal.
The meeting was held at the official residence of Finance Minister and government’s key negotiator on Lokpal issue, Pranab Mukherjee.

The team Anna side was represented by a three member team consisting of Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi.

Apart from Mukherjee, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid was also present in the meeting.
Coming out of the 90-minute long deliberations, Khurshid told reporters, “The talks are going on in a positive manner with a positive attitude. But, we are still working on the modalities.”

Khurshid said another round of talks will be held after 12 pm tomorrow.

“The context and priorities are the health of Anna Hazare. The government is indeed concerned”, he said.

After the meeting, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that that the government hoped that Parliamentary process will be allowed to complete its exercise and make recommendations on the Jan Lokpal Bill for its adoption.

However, Team Anna accused the government of hardening its stand. Upset at the lack of progress, Anna Hazare`s three representatives -- Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi -- said that the difference between the government`s attitude yesterday and today was as that of "day and night".

They were of the view that talks were "back to square one" although the government said another round of discussions will be held tomorrow.

"There is a difference of day and night between yesterday and today. There has been a change of attitude. The kind of concern they were expressing yesterday was not visible today. It is totally retrograde," Kiran Bedi said.

Accusing the government of involving them only for the sake of meetings, Bedi said they have gone back to the drafting stage.

Expressing disappointment with the meeting, Bhushan said that the discussions will have to be started "once again virtually from the scratch".

"While yesterday there seem to be some progress, today after the meetings of CCPA, Congress Core Group and all party meeting, we seem to be back to square one," he said.

Reacting sharply to the comments made by Team Anna Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the stand of the government on the issue is being misconstrued.

The meeting tonight was the fourth meeting that Team Anna was having with the government negotiators that started from an informal deliberation between them and Law Minister Salman Khurshid yesterday.

Earlier in the day, a meeting between government and Team Anna failed to reach at a consensus. The meeting was held at the residence of Law Minister Salman Khurshid. Yesterday Mukherjee held a three-hour-long meeting with Team Anna at his official residence.

Meanwhile, concerns over Hazare`s health mounted after he refused doctors` advice to be put on an intravenous drip even though he has increased his intake of fluid.

The 74-year-old anti-corruption crusader has lost another 200 grams in the past 24 hours with his weight settling at 66.2 kg. He was 72 kg before he began his fast on August 16. His blood pressure was recorded at 104/86 while blood sugar was 106 and pulse rate 82.

In an all-party meeting, presided by the Prime Minister earlier in the day, there was unanimity that the supremacy of Parliament and Constitution should be upheld but divergent views were aired on the fate of official Lokpal Bill.

Amidst Hazare’s falling health on the ninth day of his indefinite fast, an all-party meeting called by the government on Wednesday passed a joint resolution urging the Gandhian Anna Hazare to end his fast.

“This meeting of all parties in Parliament requests Sri Anna Hazare to end his fast. The meeting was also of the view that due consideration should be given to the Jan Lokpal Bill so that the Final Draft of the Lokpal Bill provides for a strong and effective Lokpal which is supported by a broad national consensus,” the all-party resolution said.

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