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Pranab Mukherjee to negotiate with Team Anna

Source: PTI
August 23, 2011 18:12 IST
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In the first major breakthrough in the week-long standoff, the government on Tuesday appointed Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as its negotiator for talks with Anna Hazare and his aides over their demand for a strong Lokpal.

Announcing the government's initiative, Hazare's close aide Arvind Kejriwal said the activist will decide as to who will represent his team in the talks with Mukherjee.

The ice-breaking development came during the first direct contact between the two sides at the residence of Congress Member of Parliament Sandeep Dikshit when Law Minister Salman Khurshid met Kejriwal and discussed how to go about the issue.

"Just now Salman Khurshid has invited us for discussions. He has said that Pranab Mukherjee has been appointed by the government to talk to us," he said.

"Anna is sleeping now. Once he gets up, he will decide as to who all will represent our team," Kejriwal told Hazare's supporters at Ramlila Maidan, where Hazare is fasting.

He also asked the crowd whether "we should go ahead with talks" and it responded with cheers.

The prime minister, who held discussions with Mukherjee and senior ministers A K Antony and P Chidambaram, also wrote a letter to Hazare informing him of the initiative and appealed to him to end his fast, which entered the second week today.

He also told him that the government was concerned about his health.

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