M A I N   N E W S

Anna meets Sonia, pushes for ‘proper’ Lokpal draft
To resume stir from Aug 16 if demand not met; Cong says decision rests with govt

New Delhi, July 2
Ahead of the all-party meet tomorrow on the Lokpal Bill issue, Anna Hazare today had a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in which he pressed for inclusion of the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary within the ambit of the Lokpal.

Emerging after the 30-minute talks, Hazare said a “proper” draft of the Lokpal Bill should go to Parliament and that he would respect whatever the House decides as he was not against Parliament or democracy.

The Gandhian, however, threatened to go on an indefinite fast from August 16 if a “proper” draft was not brought before Parliament.

In the meeting that was marked by “cordiality and courtesy”, Sonia assured Hazare that she would apprise the government of the civil society’s views once more.

AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, who was present during the parleys, said that no contentious issue, including that of bringing the Prime Minister and judiciary under the Lokpal, figured during the meeting with Sonia but added that they had no problem with what Hazare chose to say outside about his plans.

After the meeting, Dwivedi told reporters that the party would go by the “final decision that emerges from within the government” and would “welcome whatever view emerges through collective wisdom of Parliament”.

Hazare said that he had apprised Sonia of all the issues which had been discussed with the government as well and Sonia gave them a patient hearing.

Arvind Kejriwal, who accompanied Hazare for the talks, said they tried to convince Sonia why it was necessary to bring the Prime Minister and the higher judiciary within the ambit of the Lokpal.

He said they told Sonia about the differences in the two versions of the Lokpal Bill.

Kejriwal said Sonia told them that she would take a view on these issues.

Pranab Mukherjee, who headed the Joint Committee that drafted the Lokpal Bill, and senior Congress leader Mohsina Kidwai were present at the meeting.

Hazare said, "A proper draft should go to Parliament. Only then a proper discussion will take place. If they send a wrong draft what kind of discussion will take place. If proper draft is not sent, we will resume our agitation from August 16.”

Hazare made it clear that once a proper draft went to Parliament then the civil society had nothing to say further as they were “neither opposed to Parliament nor democracy”.

Asked whether the Congress felt that Hazare had gone for a climbdown during the meeting with Sonia, Dwivedi merely said that in a democracy "all have the right to put forward their views, but only that is accepted on which there is consensus”.

He said the Congress welcomed the sentiments of Hazare on democracy and Parliament. Replying to another question, the Congress leader stressed that he had not said that the meeting was "successful, but it saw both sides expressing their readiness to consider the views of each other".

Asked whether the Congress still considered Hazare a “mask of the RSS”, Dwivedi said: “It is not good to create a controversy when there is none.”

A senior party leader, who did not wish to be identified, made it clear that the Congress would not go by individual opinion, including that of Manmohan Singh, on the issue of bringing the Prime Minister within the purview of Lokpal. — PTI 





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