Govt opens communication with Anna Hazare

New Delhi: As Government opened a channel of communication with him, Anna Hazare today rejected its reported offer of an informal committee of civil society activists and government representatives to draft an effective Lokpal bill.

After Union Minister Kapil Sibal met with two activists Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal this morning to find a way out and they reported to him on the talks, the 72-year-old Gandhian "we will continue the fast till our demands are not met".

Kejriwal told the protesters at the fast site at Jantar Mantar that Sibal agreed with their demand for a 50:50 representation for civil society activists and government representatives on a joint committee for drafting the bill.

But, he said, Sibal had told them that it would not not be constituted through a notification but would be an informal committee.

The assembled gathering rejected this offer as also the formula that senior minister Pranab Mukherjee would be its Chairman.

"Anna Hazare should be the Chairman" demanded the gathering.

The two activists also told Sibal that they cannot wait till May 13 when the current assembly elections would end for beginning work on drafting the bill.

"We want work to start just now," he said as the crowd roared in approval.

He said Swami Agnivesh told the minister that the revised bill should be ready when the monsoon of Parliament commences.

After listening to Kejriwal and the crowd`s demand, Hazare got up to make a brief statement saying "I will continue the fast till all our demands are not not met".

Agnivesh and Kejriwal would be meeting Sibal later in the day for another round of talks.

and said he will continue his indefinite fast till their demands are met.

Sibal, who met the activists at his residence, said the broad parametres of solving the issue has been agreed upon.

"We have started a channel of communication. We met last evening. We met today also. The talks have been constructive…The formalities are yet to be agreed upon. We are meeting again," Sibal told reporters after the meeting.

But he did not elaborate on what the formula is saying the attempt is that all are together.

"We want to deal with corruption. We want to get rid of corruption. We want the civil society to participate. We have no problem with that," he said appealing to Hazare to call off the hunger strike.

"The objective of the government and civil society is to sit together and to deal with the issue of corruption effectively through an appropriate legislation," he said.

Agnivesh said he will inform Hazare about the outcome of the talks which he described as "positive".

"We will inform Hazare about the talks. The final decision will be his," he said.

Before the second round of talks with Sibal, Kejriwal said they will convey their stand to him which included the immediate constitution or setting up of the committee.

"In the first round of talks, Sibal had told us that the government was ready to constitute a joint committee with five members each from the civil society and the government.

This we accepted," he said.

Kejriwal, who along with Swami Agnivesh is negotiating with the government, said they then suggested to the minister to notify the formation of the committee which the minister rejected.

"Sibal told us it won`t be possible and that he will announce to the media about the formation of the committee but there will be no formal notification. Where is the guarantee when the minister only announces the formation of the committee and there is no formal notification. They are trying to make a fool of us," he said.

Kejriwal also said that Hazare was of the view that a retired judge should be the Chairman of the committee as the government suggested that Pranab Mukerjee head the panel.

However, Hazare`s supporters have suggested that the Gandhian head the committee.

}