All-party meeting on Lokpal Bill underway

The crucial all-party meeting convened by the government is underway at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence in Delhi.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the government’s chief negotiator, is representing the Congress in the meeting being held to discuss the deadlock over the Lokpal Bill.

The meeting has been called by the government in a bid to build consensus before a decision is taken on the Bill.

In his opening remarks, the prime minister urged political parties to show the government the way forward. This is because the issues raised by Team Anna relate to the functioning of parliamentary democracy, he said.

The prime minister also said the government was prepared to request the Speaker of the Lok Sabha to formally refer the Jan Lokpal Bill also to the Standing Committee “for their holistic consideration along with everything else”.

“The government can formally request the Standing Committee to fast-track their deliberations to the extent reasonably feasible, subject to its discretion and the necessity to reflect deeply and spend adequate time on such an important Bill,” he said.

Mukherjee was likely to meet Team Anna again on Wednesday after the all-party meeting. But there is a possibility of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs meeting before the government negotiates with Team Anna again.

PM expresses concern over Anna’s health
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed concern over anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare’s failing health.

“Yesterday, I felt that I should take a personal initiative to appeal to Shri Anna Hazareji to end his fast so that we may work together in a spirit of cooperative engagement to bring into existence a strong Lokpal,” he said.

“Our common objective is to build a strong and independent institution that will deal effectively with corruption, which is a major challenge that confronts our democracy and our nation,” he said.

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