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Team Anna wants written assurance on Lokpal

Anna Hazare is awaiting a written assurance from the government on the Lokpal Bill issue before ending his indefinite fast which entered the ninth day as his team said that developments unfolding Wednesday will be "crucial".



New Delhi: Anna Hazare is awaiting a written
assurance from the government on the Lokpal Bill issue before ending his indefinite fast which entered the ninth day as his team said that developments unfolding today will be "crucial".

Government and Team Anna held discussions for the first
time last night and both sides agreed on a variety of issues
leading to hopes of Hazare ending the fast.

"Anna will read every word of the written agreement when
it comes. Rest assured he is not going to take any chances at
all. Today is crucial. His health as well as government giving
a written commitment for tabling and passing in current
session the Jan Lokpal is important," activist Kiran Bedi
said.

Team Anna claimed that three issues still remain the
sticking point as there were no agreement on citizen`s
charter, inclusion of lower bureaucracy and setting up of
Lokayukta in state through Lokpal.

There were indications that government might consider
bringing the Prime Minister under the ambit of the
anti-corruption ombudsman while differences persisted on other
key issues during the inconclusive talks.

Last night`s negotiations capped a day of fast-moving
developments which saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appoint
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as the negotiator and
immediately thereafter three members of Hazare`s team met
him.

After three hours of talks, Team Anna said they made it
clear to the government that the official Lokpal Bill should
either be withdrawn or allowed to lapse and the Jan Lokpal
Bill should be introduced and passed in the current session of
Parliament by extending it, if necessary.

Meanwhile, Hazare refused to be put on a intravenous drip
despite doctors advising him to do so once again this morning,
his close associate said.

Hazare yesterday disregarded doctor`s advice to be put on
Intravenous (IV) drip and refused to take any medicine while
warning the government against trying to forcibly evict him
from the protest site of Ramlila Maidan here.

Team Anna has also rejected the Prime Minister`s offer to
send the Jan Lokpal Bill to the Parliamentary Standing
Committee. "We have told them that it is not acceptable,"
Arvind Kejriwal, a top associate of Hazare, said yesterday.

The talks followed the Prime Minister`s letter to Hazare in which he appealed to him to end the fast saying he and the government have "abiding interest" in his health.

The Prime Minister`s initiative saw Law Minister Salman
Khurshid meeting Kejriwal at a flat near East Delhi MP Sandeep
Dikshit`s residence where it was conveyed that Mukherjee
would negotiate with Hazare`s team.

Kejriwal said that during the discussions with Mukherjee
it was conveyed that the basic principles of the Jan Lokpal
Bill should be preserved and the Law Ministry should vet the
draft in two-three days and get back to them.
"The Congress, UPA and the government should give a
commitment that it will support the Bill and get it passed in
this session itself, if required by extending it by two-three
days," Kejriwal said.

Prashant Bhushan, another Hazare associate, said the
government appeared to have no objection to bringing the
Prime Minister under the ambit of Lokpal, while on judges, the
government promised they will bring a separate law and "show
it to us".

The civil society representatives claimed government has
agreed that the anti-corruption wing of CBI will be under
Lokpal and the corrupt acts of members of Parliament will be
covered by the ombudsman even if it was in pursuance of a vote
cast or speech made in Parliament which is now protected under
Article 105.

PTI

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