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Team Anna will see wording of parliament's resolution before Hazare breaks fast: Medha Patkar


August 27, 2011 - New Delhi

Social activist Medha Patkar on Saturday said that Team Anna would take a decision on Anna Hazare breaking his fast only after seeing and accepting the wording of the parliament resolution passed by a voice vote on the three anti-corruption related demands

The government will move a resolution on the Lokpal Bill in Parliament late tonight after hearing its members debate the pros and cons of the bill.

Hazare, 74, has not eaten for 12 days, but no one would know it as he raised his voice, loud and clear in slogan on stage on Saturday evening.

Anna seemed ready for a defining moment in independent India's history - his Gandhi cap was back on after days. But doctors today said his Blood Pressure was low and his pulse rate high and that he must not lose more weight.

There have been widespread appeals for the 74-year-old to call off his hunger strike - from Bollywood star Aamir Khan to spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to lawmakers in Parliament.

Saturday was a day of fast-paced developments from the morning till late in the evening. A compromise seemed tantalizingly close, but as the debate in parliament and negotiations outside continued, there was first hope than disappointment.

Eventually, the government and the opposition agreed to prepare a resolution and put it to a voice vote later this evening. At the time of the filing of this report, the debate on the three must-have demands of Anna Hazare was still on.

The government hopes the unanimity of the House on Anna's three demands means only a voice vote will be needed to pass the resolution. However, if anyone seeks division, there could be formal voting.

Team Anna is keen on a division to know how each party that promised the support voted.

According to NDTV, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh's emissary and senior minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has carried a copy of the resolution to Anna Hazare.

According to television reports, the Rajya Sabha will vote first and then the Lok Sabha.

The government's final nod came not without voices of dissent within.

Human Resource Minister Kapil Sibal opposed Team Anna's demand for a resolution and vote. He contended that it would set a wrong precedent. He said that it was wrong to commit unless the government was sure of delivering.

Earlier in the day, Team Anna representatives Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal accused the government and other politicians of betrayal when they were told that a sense of the house on the three demands would be conveyed to them, and that there would not be a resolution or a vote.

"We have been told there will not be any resolution or any voting, this is not going to be very meaningful or helpful. The whole objective of today's Parliament debate was that there will be a resolution and voting which would have also made clear the stand of MPs and their parties. If no resolution will take place or no voting will happen and if this is the response given to Anna Hazare's letter then it is "very unfortunate", Bhushan said this afternoon.

"It is a clear case of betrayal. In the last four days, the government has changed its stand thrice," added Kejriwal.

The government, shaking its head about what it called another "shifting of goal posts" said it offered last night exactly what it was set to deliver - a statement read out by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on the unanimity of the House on the three must-have demands of Anna Hazare which would then be sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Senior ministers Pranab Mukherjee, Salman Khurshid and Kapil Sibal then went into another huddle and Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met BJP leaders. The BJP then said it was ready for resolution and vote on all three points.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said, "The government should not try to confuse the picture...The BJP has suggested a way out of constitutional technicalities."

The earlier compromise arrived at - one that the BJP had signed off on - was that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee would initiate a debate in Parliament. The discussion would focus largely on Anna's version of the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill. A resolution would be drafted and would accept in principle the three demands that Anna has listed as a pre-condition to ending his fast. This draft for the resolution - intended to convey the unanimous opinion of the House - was also reviewed by the BJP's Arun Jaitley. The plan was that the House would collectively issue this resolution or written statement and it would then be sent to the Standing Committee for review and recommendations, which is standard procedure.

The Lokpal refers to an ombudsman committee that will be empowered to investigate complaints of corruption from the public against government servants. "Anna's trio of essentials include bringing all central government employees, including junior bureaucrats, under the purview of the Lokpal. He also wants the Lokpal model to be replicated in states. Finally, he wants a citizen's charter to be displayed in all government departments. This notice will list the duties of that department and provide for punishment for under-performance.

The government had indicated that the resolution could refer to some caveats on the point about junior bureaucrats. These would be ironed out with inputs from all parties via the Standing Committee.

ANI

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