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PM, parliament urge Anna to end fast

Thursday August 25, 2011 05:13:37 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Saying that he salutes Anna Hazare, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday made a passionate appeal to the 74-year-old crusader to end his 10-day fast for an effective anti-corruption law, a campaign that has generated nationwide support.

"I respect his idealism, I respect him as an individual... I applaud him, I salute him," Manmohan Singh said in the Lok Sabha as former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde warned of chaos if anything happened to Hazare.

He urged the house to join him in the appeal. He got the immediate backing of opposition and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.

In a desperate bid to end the Lokpal logjam, Manmohan Singh deviated from parliamentary convention by suggesting that the house could debate the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by Team Anna along with other similar bills.

He said this would satisfy the condition of Hazare that parliament should take up his Jan Lokpal Bill.

Hazare "has made his point. It has been registered with us. I respect his idealism. I respect him as an individual", he said in a statement heard in silence by the packed house.

"He (Hazare) has become the embodiment of our people's disgust and concern about tackling corruption.

"His life is much too precious and therefore I would urge Hazare to end his fast."

Towards the end of his speech, in which he also denied accusations that he had connived at corruption, Manmohan Singh underlined that Hazare's life was "much too precious".

"We would like him to live a long life and a happy life in the service of our people," he said, paying a personal tribute to one who had been attacked by his own Congress colleagues.

There was no immediate reaction from Hazare, whose protest has drawn tens of thousands at the Ramlila ground, or his colleagues.

Doctors have said that Hazare's health is slipping but the activist has adamantly refused to be taken to hospital or be administered saline. Since Aug 16, he has only sipped water.

The statement from Manmohan Singh, prime minister since 2004, seemed to indicate that his government and the Congress party were aware of the huge political dent they have suffered on account of the Hazare fast.

Responding to opposition allegations that he had connived with graft, the prime minister admitted that while he may have made mistakes, it was wrong to say he was the fountainhead of corruption.

"I may have made mistakes. Who is above making mistakes? To err is human but to accuse me of evil intentions, of conniving at corruption is a charge I firmly repudiate.

"There is anger in the country. There is anger about the misuse of public offices," he said.

"Therefore, both at the centre and the states, it is our obligation to clean up the system of governance... I commit our government to doing precisely that."

He called for "a very strong bill" to battle corruption.

And so, he called upon the house to appeal to Hazare that "he has made his point, it has been registered with us".

With Hazare determined not to end his fast till the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by him and his colleagues was not placed in parliament, Manmohan Singh suggested that it could be discussed by the house along with other similar bills including the government's Lokpal bill.

Such a debate would help determine the weak and strong points of various bills so that we "have the best possible bill to deal with the problem of corruption".

Such a move, he added, would respect parliamentary supremacy and at the same time meet Hazare's demand.

 


 


 

 

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Anna mocks Congress charge of RSS, BJP support. But in Malegaon, BJP is using hoardings to garner support for Hazare. Also, there are good number of BJP workers and hardcore RSS activists in the rallies called to support Hazare.

(Photo: ummid.com)

 

 
 
 
 
 

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