Stances harden as LS is set to debate Lokpal motion

Stances harden as LS is set to debate Lokpal motion

Government continues efforts to talk Anna Hazare out of fast

Stances harden as LS is set to debate Lokpal motion

On its part, the government continued consultations to reach a consensus on a resolution that would persuade the Gandhian to give up his fast.

Finance Minister and chief negotiator on behalf of the Centre, Pranab Mukherjee, who will open the discussion on the morrow, made it clear that the government would not withdraw its version of the Lokpal bill discussion, though it would be open to making extensive amendment to the proposed draft legislation.

The three sticking points between Team Anna and the government, stated in a letter from the Gandhian to the prime minister, include bringing the lower bureaucracy under the Lokpal, appointing Lokayuktas in states and the instituting citizens’ charters under the Lokpal. The Gandhian warned the prime minister that he would not end his fast until Parliament passed the resolution on the three demands that the Centre is wary of giving in, as they relate to the very federal structure under the Constitution.

The differences between the BJP and all other parties over the former’s demand for a debate under rule 184 that entails voting derailed a debate on Friday, postponing the debate to Saturday. By night, realising that it was isolated, the BJP had come round to a debate under 193 on a resolution that requires no voting.

While the government hopes that the resolution would make Anna Hazare give up his fast demanding the creation of a strong anti-corruption watchdog, which entered its 12th day on Friday, there was no final word if the Gandhian would call it off on Saturday. Also, while the government wants the debate to end on Saturday, it is yet to be seen if the House will complete the discussion before it rises.

At Ramlila Maidan, Hazare kept up the pressure on the government, declaring that he would end his fast only if Parliament passed his bill, or a resolution binding the parliamentary standing committee to draft such a legislation.

In a rare speech in the House, Rahul Gandhi said the Lokpal Act alone would not help eradicate corruption and was subtly critical the Hazare  movement. “Individual dictates” must not weaken democratic process as dangerous precedent could be set, he said drawing flak from BJP members, who said they did not want to hear “sermons” from him.

Gandhi said a set of effective laws along with creation of an statutory institution of Lokpal like the Election Commission would be required to fight corruption, a suggestion that was scoffed at by Kiran Bedi, but was supported by Medha Patkar, who has been an integral part of the Hazare bandwagon.

The series of consultation in the Parliament House found that a majority of the non-BJP parties were against a vote on discussion as they were keen that the resolution emerging at the end of the debate should reflect the sense of the House, than reflect differences in the face of the unity and aggression shown by the civil society.

At the end of a series of consultations, the government seems to have brought most of the parties represented in the Lok Sabha to the idea of a discussion under Rule 193.
Dramatic events outside marked the day – a Hazare supporter entered the Parliament complex, took off his shirt to display another tucked inside on which was written a pro-Anna slogan.  He was whisked him away by securitymen.

The House was adjourned in the afternoon, when BJP members staged a walk out soon after the Speaker allowed Sandeep Dikshit (Congress) to begin speaking on the resolution under Rule 193. After adjournment of the Lok Sabha over the Lokpal issue, about a dozen Congress MPs – mainly the young members – staged a demonstration in front of the Parliament gate near Gandhi statue, shouting slogans against the BJP for not allowing debate in the House.

Rahul Gandhi who made a rare speech in the House on corruption and favoured later described to media that his plan was a “gamechanger”.

There were protests in front of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s house, but the demonstrators were served snacks by his household which were gladly accepted by the crowd of Hazare supporters.

Earlier in the day, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar held a meeting of floor leaders of all parties in which the government favoured a debate without voting – under Rule 193. However, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley later said it was fine, if the prime minister made an opening statement giving clarity over government’s stand on the specific issues.

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