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Hazare fast: What Congress plans to do now

April 07, 2011 23:39 IST

The Congress has sought to politically tackle the issue of Anna Hazare holding an indefinite fast -- to demand the involvement of civil society in the formulation of the anti-graft Lok Pal bill -- with party president Sonia Gandhi stepping in to resolve the issue on the third day of the activist's fast.

Gandhi has directed the government to show the same level of sincerity while forming laws to combat corruption that Hazare has exhibited while pursuing the issue.
After Hazare's crusade received support from various sections of the society and grabbed a large number of eyeballs, Gandhi stepped in and issued a public appeal, urging him to give up his fast.
She said, "I am pained by Anna Hazareji's fast unto death. The issues he has raised are of grave public concern. There can be no two views on the urgent necessity of combating graft and corruption in public life. I believe that the laws in these matters must be effective and must deliver the desired results. I am sure that Anna Hazareji's views will receive the government's full attention as we move forward to fight this menace. I appeal to Annaji to give up his fast".
According to a senior Congress leader, as the president of the biggest political party in the country, she has expressed her concern and hoped that these will be addressed by the government.
After a meeting of senior Congress leaders late on Wednesday night, Pranab Mukherjee met Sonia Gandhi at 10 am on Thursday to discuss Hazare's fast, and it was decided that the issue required a political response.

The Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council is already looking into the formulation of a Lok Pal bill. While there are areas in which it disagrees with the government, the NAC has been actively pursuing this agenda.
Gandhi has earlier spoken out against the menace of corruption and the need to put a check on the problem that plagues the entire country. She has used words like 'imari' (illness) to describe corruption.
Attacked directly by Hazare and various sections of the society for not doing enough to bring in the long delayed Lok Pal bill, the Prime Minister's Office has also swung into action. It has asked Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal to meet Hazare's representatives and resolve the issue.

Sibal has already held three rounds of meetings with Swami Agnivesh and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal.

The government has agreed to form a joint committee, with 50 per cent representatives from civil society and the rest from the government, but it is reluctant to issue a formal notification for its constitution.
The government is not too keen on appointing Hazare as the chairman of the joint drafting committee, as the PM reportedly wants Mukherjee to head the committee. To iron out these glitches, Sibal is likely to hold another round of meeting on Friday with the activists.
According to sources, Gandhi's personal intervention in the matter may help in resolving the issue that has captured the attention of the nation.

Renu Mittal In New Delhi