BeyondHeadlines News Desk
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that he is “hopeful of a solution” that will persuade anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare to end his hunger strike, which has entered its 10th day. He asked Hazare to adopt a “more rational approach” with regard to his demand for a strong Lokpal and made it clear that Parliamentary democracy cannot be undermined.
Responding to a letter from former Chief Justice J S Verma, Singh asserted that it is only after “due deliberation” that a law can be passed that not only meets the aspirations of the people but is also “practical and effective.”
Virtually rejecting the August 30 deadline set by Hazare for passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill, he said, “It is the bounden duty of Parliament to pass a law only after its members have had reasonable time and opportunity to hear a wide range of public opinions and apply their minds to its various provisions.”
Dr Singh has reportedly requested former Chief Justice of India JS Verma to to use his good offices to urge to urge the 73-year-old activist and his supporters “to adopt a more rational approach in dealing with this complex problem.”
PTI says the Prime Minister explained in his letter to Justice Verma, “It is the bounden duty of Parliament to pass a law only after its members have had reasonable time and opportunity to hear a wide range of public opinions and apply their minds to its various provisions.”
Singh’s letter came after talks between government and Team Anna ended in a deadlock last night with two sides failing to resolve sticky issues, prompting the civil society to declare that they were “back to square one.”
Hazare’s fast entered the tenth day today amid mounting concerns over his health and his team accusing “some strong elements” in the government of nullifying the entire dialogue process.
Noting that Verma’s letter mentions that the rule of law is the bedrock of democracy, the Prime Minister said “I cannot agree more except to say that our great Constitution has served this country very well through difficult times and we should do nothing that in any way undermines the parliamentary democracy of which the country is so proud.”
Agreeing that in an inclusive democracy every section of civil society has a participative role in governance, including that of policy making, Singh said he has no difference with Verma’s proposal that the views of the entire civil society must be presented along with the government draft of the Lokpal Bill to the Parliament for consideration.
“However, Anna Hazare ji and his supporters insist that the Jan Lokpal Bill, which perhaps reflects one section of views, must be passed in this session of Parliament itself and without referring it to the Standing Committee,” Singh added.
Maintaining that he was as “pained” as Verma at the corruption faced by the citizens in many of their dealings with the Government, he said the country is agreed on the necessity and urgency of remedial action to curb corruption.
“It is a complex problem and we have to act on a number of fronts. The Right to Information Act was one such landmark measure that we took and it has had a salutary effect. But much more needs to be done and the problem has to be tackled from different angles and at different levels,” Singh said in the letter on Wednesday, a day after he wrote to Hazare requesting him to end his fast.
The Prime Minister also agreed that Hazare has rendered a great public service by mobilizing public opinion against corruption.
Team Anna wants their Jan Lokpal Bill to be tabled in Parliament and put to a debate. The government says its own version of this legislation has already been introduced in parliament and cannot be withdrawn. It has offered for Anna’s bill to be reviewed by the same parliamentary committee that has received the government’s draft.
Team Anna’s demand for its bill alone to be considered and their deadline for their bill to be passed by the end of this parliamentary session have been deemed both unrealistic and in danger of undermining due process.