Close on the heels of activist Anna Hazare threatening another round of agitation about the Lokpal Bill, the government, Team Anna and opposition parties Bharatiya Janata Party and Communist Party of India Marxist on Saturday said they were ready for an open dialogue on a strong anti-corruption bill.
"The doors are open and we have never shut it. Rather, it was Team Anna which had slammed the door on us," Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said at a debate in Kolkata on the topic 'In the demand for a strong Lokpal, does the end justify the means?'
He said that what was required was the right language and the right means for a dialogue.
Team Anna members Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal said they were also ready for a dialogue with the government and others. They contended that the draft Lokpal Bill lying with the Standing Committee was a "watered down version" of the original.
It was not the one about which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had committed on three issues like Citizen's Charter, roping in the lower bureaucracy within its ambit and creation of Lokayuktas in the state, Bedi and Kejriwal said.
Bedi alleged that the draft Bill did not propose to give autonomy to the Central Bureau of Investigation, making it weaker.
Reacting to this, Khurshid said, "We will not present a strong Lokpal Bill but a stronger one than they have imagined".
"Issues like Citizens Charter and Lokayuktas will be to the satisfaction of the people," he said.