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Ahead of the all party meet on Lokpal Hazare meets Sonia

Saturday July 02, 2011 08:52:56 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Civil society activist Anna Hazare Saturday met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to press for a strong Lokpal bill and said he will go on a fast from Aug 16 if a comprehensive legislation is not brought to parliament.

"If a half-baked bill is sent to parliament, what will the parliament discuss?" Hazare said after the meeting with Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence.

Hazare, who was accompanied by his civil society colleague on the joint drafting panel Arvind Kejriwal, said Gandhi assured them that she will discuss their suggestions with her colleagues.

Hazare said he will go on fast from Aug 16 if "right" Lokpal bill was not brought before parliament.

He said they had good discussion and made their point of view before the Congress leaders.

Kejriwal said after the meeting the civil society representatives wanted the prime minister and the judiciary to be included within the ambit of the Lokpal.

Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, who was present at meeting, said: "Both sides exchanged views by giving respect to each other's feelings. The Congress president told them that they had already placed their viewpoint in the joint drafting committee but since a dialogue was taking place again, she will discuss them with her colleagues."

Dwivedi refused to answer questions over charges made by Congress leaders earlier that Hazare was backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He said the party will back the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's stand on the anti-graft Lokpal bill.

"Talks have to be held with all parties. It is a coalition government led by the Congress. Whatever decision is taken through collective wisdom, we will support it," Dwivedi said.

The Congress general secretary refused to go into details of the issues discussed at the meeting. "We will not discuss specific issues. That is not proper as the matter is being talked about with others," he said.

Asked about Hazare's statement to media after the meeting, Dwivedi said: "Whatever Anna has said could be what he had in his mind, but nothing of that came up at the meeting."

The meeting was also attended by Congress leader Mohsina Kidwai.

The Congress Friday favoured exclusion of the prime minister and the judiciary from the ambit of the proposed Lokpal bill but said that its final views will be reflected in the stance of the cabinet and in parliament.

The prime minister, the party said, could be brought under Lokpal's purview once he demits office.

The government has convened an all-party meeting on the Lokpal bill Sunday.









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