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PM writes to Anna, says Jan Lokpal Bill can be referred to Parliament

Tuesday August 23, 2011 06:53:21 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Expressing "deep concern" over the deteriorating health of Anna Hazare, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday appealed to him to end his eight-day hunger strike and said parliament may consider his version of the anti-graft Lokpal bill.

In a 500-word letter, Manmohan Singh told Hazare that "our government is prepared to request Speaker (Meira Kumar) to formally refer the Jan Lokpal Bill to the standing committee for their holistic consideration alongwith everything else".

"I do hope that you will consider my suggestions and end your fast to regain full health and vitality," the prime minister wrote in the letter.

Over the last few days, he said he had watched with "increasing concern" the state of Hazare's health.

"Despite the differences between the government and your team, I do not think that anybody is or should be in any doubt about the deep and abiding concern which I and our government share about your health, arising from your continuing fast.

"I have no hesitation in saying that we need your views and actions in the service of the nation, from a robust physical condition and not in the context of frail or failing health," said the prime minister.

He said only the paths and methodologies taken by the government and Hazare's team were different.

"The government is committed to passing a constitutionally valid and the best possible Lok Pal legislation with inputs from civil society with the broadest possible consensus. We are ready to talk to anybody," he said.

However, the prime minister also reiterated that parliamentary supremacy and constitutional obligations in matters of legislation should be kept in mind.

He said that all options were open before the standing committee, which is already considering the government's version of the Lokpal bill.

"Undoubtedly, they would be entitled to consider, in detail and clause by clause, subject to their discretion, not only the bill introduced by us but the Jan Lokpal Bill and other versions like those prepared by (social activist) Aruna Roy.

He said the standing committee was "fully entitled" to make any changes to the bill introduced by the government.

"In that view of the matter, the formal non introduction of the Jan Lokpal Bill version by the government is irrelevant and would largely boil down to a semantic debate," Manmohan Singh said.

He said the government could request the panel to try and fast track their deliberations on the bill to "the extent reasonably feasible".

"I would like to say that this letter and each suggestion herein is actuated solely by the twin considerations of deep and genuine concern about your health and the emergence of a strong and effective Lok Pal Act in accordance with established constitutional precept and practice," he said.





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