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Rediff.com  » News » Send your representatives for talks: Hazare to PM

Send your representatives for talks: Hazare to PM

Last updated on: August 22, 2011 16:37 IST

'Let the government come forward'

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With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh maintaining that the government is open to dialogue, activist Anna Hazare on Monday suggested that he should send his representatives for a discussion on the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Kiran Bedi, one of the leading members of Team Anna, quoted Hazare as saying, "Let the government come forward to discuss the Jan Lokpal bill. Let the PM send his representatives."

She dismissed reports about negotiations between the two groups. "(Talk of) any negotiations are rumours," Bedi tweeted.

The suggestion came within hours of the prime minister saying that the government is open to a "reasoned debate" on the Lokpal Bill and that the Parliamentary panel examining it can propose changes.


Image: Supporters of Anna Hazare paint a sketch during a protest against corruption
Photographs: Ajay Verma/Reuters
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'We are open to a debate'

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"We are open to a reasoned debate on all these issues," Dr Singh said at the golden jubilee function of the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata.

As Hazare's fast to demand a strong Lokpal entered its seventh day, his close associates expressed concern over his deteriorating health.

His team asserted that they have no intention to topple the government but defended the Gandhian's remarks that it should step down if the bill is not passed by August 30.

Hazare's hunger strike inched close to 150 hours as hundreds of people poured into Ramlila Maidan to express solidarity with the 73-year-old Gandhian who began his indefinite fast in police custody on August 16.


Image: Anna Hazare speaks to doctors as they examine him at Ramlila Ground in New Delhi
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters
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'We don't have a concrete proposal'

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As his protest continued, Team Anna said they were yet to hear from the government about any future talks.

"The prime minister tells you people (media) that they are ready for talks. But we are asking again and again where do we come? Whom do we meet? Until we don't have a concrete proposal, we cannot react to it," activist Arvind Kejriwal said.

Asked about Hazare's statement that the government should go if it does not pass the bill by August 30, Kejriwal said Team Anna has no intention of toppling the government.

"We have been repeating that our motive is not to topple the government. If the government is so insensitive even on the seventh day of protests and mass gatherings, they are saying we will protect corruption and shelter the corrupt. So what is wrong if Hazare said this," he said.


Image: A supporter of Anna Hazare waves India's national flag during a protest march
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters
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'It'll take less than two minutes to pass the bill'

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Stating that they have not changed their stand and they cannot leave the government "free to help corrupt people", he put the ball in the government's court on negotiations, saying now the way ahead has to be decided by the government.

"If they have the political will, it will take less than two minutes to pass the bill," he said.

The government has initiated back-channel negotiations by roping in Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra Umesh Chandra Sarangi and spiritual guru Bhaiyyuji Maharaj. Both of them held a meeting with Hazare and his team on Sunday.


Image: Supporters of Anna Hazare march over a flyover towards Ramlila Ground
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters
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'We are worried'

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Expressing hope that differences between Hazare and government would be sorted out soon, Maharaj said the government was trying "really hard" to find a solution.

The day also witnessed protests outside the residences of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Human Resource Devlopment Minister Kapil Sibal and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

The deteriorating health of Hazare has his associates worried.

"His weight has come down to 67 kg from 72 kg. His blood pressure is 130/80 and pulse rate 90. Doctors say his health is okay but we are worried," said Manish Sisodia, one of his associates.


Image: Anna Hazare

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