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Lokpal row: Kahani mein naya twist

By Renu Mittal
August 26, 2011 22:44 IST
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Renu Mittal reveals the new twists and turns in the Lokpal drama, involving the government, the BJP, and, of course, Anna Hazare and his 'team'.

Parliament on Friday could not debate the Lokpal Bill after serious differences developed between the government and the Bharatiya Janata Party over Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj wanting to move a resolution, which was drafted by 'Team Anna' member Prashant Bhushan.

The BJP also wanted the discussion on the Lokpal Bill to be conducted under Rule 184, which entails voting in Parliament.

But the government, which planned to bring the discussion under Rule 193, said it could not agree to Swaraj's resolution, which was not acceptable to other political parties as well.

The government said leaders could formulate a mutually acceptable resolution, as it happened in the case of price rise during the monsoon session of Parliament, after which they could discuss the Lokpal Bill under Rule 184.

Finally, it was decided that the Lok Sabha would sit on Saturday -- a holiday usually; but these are unusual times -- and Finance Minster Pranab Mukherjee, as the Leader of the House, would make a statement on the Lokpal Bill.

On the basis of that statement, a day-long discussion would take place, which the government hopes will satisfy Anna Hazare, who had demanded a discussion on the Jan Lokpal Bill as the basis for withdrawing his fast.

Sources said the mood on Thursday had looked to be conducive to Hazare breaking his fast, but late that night, members of 'Team Anna' -- Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan -- met senior BJP leader L K Advani and other party leaders and wanted that the discussion not take place on Friday since Hazare had made up his mind to break his fast.

Meanwhile, within the Hazare group, serious differences have cropped up with Justice N Santosh Hegde and Swami Agnivesh wanting him to withdraw the fast, saying it was now counterproductive. But others like Bedi and Kejriwal, who are seen as hardliners with their own agenda, are said to be resisting the move and not allowing the 73-year-old social activist from Maharashtra to break the fast.

Hazare wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday, where he expressed his respect and faith in Parliament and regretted remarks made against MPs and Parliament.

The BJP also changed its stance on some provisions of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Till Thursday the party opposed the move to bring in the lower bureaucracy under the ambit of the bill; on Friday party leaders supported it.

Diffrences on the Lokpal have emerged within the BJP, with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh dictating its agenda; BJP President Nitin Gadkari wanting to have his say; and Advani not wanting to be left out of the action.

With K N Govindacharya, who was expelled from the BJP, announcing the backing of RSS activists to the Hazare movement, the polarisation has become much clearer, a senior politician told this reporter.

"With Hazare pushing his case and the government clearly sending the signal that it is agreeing to all his demands, it is obvious that Anna Hazare appears now to be an obstinate and stubborn man, while the government looks to be bending over backwards to affect a compromise."

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi