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Thursday, August 25, 2011

ANNALILA: Govt says yes to Anna; Lokpal debate to begin tomorrow, in Parliament!

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NDTV Correspondent, Updated: August 25, 2011 18:16 IST.

New Delhi:  Hours after the Prime Minister paid sincere tribute to Anna Hazare and offered a new compromise, the glimmer of a truce appeared at Ramlila Maidan, where Anna's anti-corruption protest drew its usual huge crowds.

Anna who is 74 and has not eaten for ten days, explained what might prompt him to end his fast. "If you are serious," he said referring to the Prime Minister, "Let's start a debate tomorrow in Parliament on the Jan Lokpal Bill. There are three points of dispute... we will test you on these." He said if there is consensus on these issues, he will consider ending his fast, but may choose to continue his protest.

The government has agreed. So tomorrow, a debate will begin on all versions of the Lokpal Bill including Anna's. Named for the independent anti-corruption agency that it creates, the Lokpal Bill currently exists in three versions prepared by the government, Team Anna and a group of activists headed by Aruna Roy. The PM suggested in parliament this morning  that all three drafts  can  be discussed by Parliament; a compilation of the best features from each could then be sent to a parliamentary committee for detailed study and feedback.

The PM's intervention brought two significant rewards: Direct negotiations with Anna, rather than his associates; and respect for his acknowledgement of Anna's role in fighting corruption. Dr Manmohan Singh, who has been criticised for appearing too distant during Anna's movement, said, "His point has been registered. I respect his idealism. Anna Hazare has become the embodiment of people's concern and disgust with corruption. I applaud him, I salute him."

Dr Singh then sent  his party's Vilasrao Deshmukh  to meet Anna at his protest camp and convey that a debate in Parliament can begin tomorrow on all versions of the Lokpal Bill. Mr Deshmukh knows Anna well, both men are from Maharashtra where the Congressman has served twice as Chief Minister. Mr Deshmukh delivered the Prime Minister's offer, and took back Anna's request for an urgent debate on the Jan Lokpal Bill.

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