Not holding govt to ransom with fasts: Bhushan



New Delhi: The government is not being held to ransom with fasts, an activist and civil society member of the Lokpal bill drafting panel said on Friday, adding that they are ready for talks.

"This is not about holding the government to ransom with fasts. If the government wants to talk about anything that is being disagreed upon, we would definitely like to talk to them," Prashant Bhushan, lawyer and member of the Lokpal bill drafting committee, said on Friday.

His statement comes a day after Gandhian Anna Hazare announced he would go on indefinite fast from Aug 16 following the open disagreements in the talks between the government and the civil society representatives.

After six rounds of talks (the civil society boycotted the June 6 meeting), Hazare accused the government of cheating the civil society that has campaigned for a strong Lokpal, or Ombudsman, while ministers accused the anti-corruption crusader of trying to set up "a parallel government".

"You cannot crate a parallel government outside the government which controls every activity which relates to the government," Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, one of the five ministers on the panel on Lokpal bill drafting, said Thursday.

Bhushan Friday said:"We are not making a parallel government. We are just putting pressure on the government on something that the people of India want".

Both the sides have left the issue on the hope that the bill, as they mutually agreed, will be presented in parliament June 30.

"We find fast as an effective way right now. Hunger strike will be continued. Let's see if it works or not," added Bhushan.

After Hazare's April 5-9 hunger strike, which evoked wide public support across India, the government set up a 10-member panel - with five representatives each from both sides - to draft an effective Lokpal bill to curb corruption in high places.

The government does not agree with the civil society members' demands that the prime minister and the higher judiciary should be brought within the ambit of the Lokpal.

There are also fundamental differences about the structure of the Lokpal institution and how it should function.

IANS