New Delhi: The Anna Hazare-led group of civil society members on Tuesday agreed?to attend the next meeting of the joint drafting panel for the Lokpal Bill on 15 June, a day after Union minister Kapil Sibal said the government will prepare the draft by the end of the month irrespective of the presence of Hazare’s group.
“Yesterday Kapil Sibal said the meetings can happen with or without us...we had only said we will not attend the 6 June meeting and that the 10 June meeting should be postponed due to unavailability of Anna Hazare...this is like forcing words in our mouth...we are not going to leave the committee like this,” Arvind Kejriwal, activist and member of the committee, told reporters on Tuesday.
The civil society representatives had boycotted the Monday meeting, opposing police action on the venue of yoga guru Ramdev’s anti-corruption fast over the weekend, and had called for a one-day fast at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday against the police action.
However, after the Delhi Police declined to give permission for the fast at Jantar Mantar, Hazare and his supporters have moved the venue to Rajghat.
Calling the police’s move “illegal”, another civil society member of the drafting committee and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan said that it is a “violation of fundamental right”.
Continuing his communication with finance minister and chairperson of the committee Pranab Mukherjee, civil society member and co-chairperson Shanti Bhushan in a letter on Tuesday said the government representatives should make their stand clear on contentious issues of the Lokpal Bill, give reasons on not implementing live telecast of the meetings and provide copies of audio recordings of all the earlier proceedings. The civil society members on Sunday said they would “attend any future meetings of the joint committee only if they were telecast live”. However, on Tuesday they softened their stand. “Live telecast will not be a condition of walking out,” Kejriwal clarified.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati have refused to give their views on a questionnaire sent by the government representatives regarding the Lokpal Bill.
“Our party has definite views on the nature and scope of the Lokpal authority to be set up,” CPM’s general secretary Prakash Karat wrote in a letter to Mukherjee on Monday. “The issues that need to be considered are not necessarily confined to the six questions which you have posed to be answered in yes or no terms.”
Separately, Ramdev also softened his stand on Tuesday and said he was open to talks with the government.
“I have personally forgiven him (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh), but the history of not only India but the whole world will never forgive him for the political sin he committed. He has tainted democracy,” Ramdev said in Haridwar.
On Sunday, Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay had ruled out further talks with Ramdev.
PTI contributed to this story.