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Friday, 19 August 2011

Jan Lokpal Bill: Ready to talk to Team Anna if approached, says Congress

NEW DELHI: Congress today expressed its readiness to talk to Team Anna if it formally approaches the government over the Lokpal issue.

An indication to this effect was available after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired an hour-long meeting with senior ministers to take stock of the situation arising out of Anna Hazare's fast at Ramlila Ground.

Highly placed sources in the party said they have no problem in holding negotiations with the civil society group led by Hazare if they express readiness for the same. A number of party leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said the government should re-engage Team Anna in talks.

The hour-long meeting of Congress Core Committee chaired by the Prime Minister was attended by all other members including Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, A K Antony and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel.

The meeting came against the backdrop of Hazare setting a deadline of August 30 for the government to get the Janlokpal Bill passed in Parliament, failing which he decided to continue his fast "till my last breath".

Differences within Congress over the way Anna Hazare issue was handled came to the fore today with East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit stating that the Gandhian should not have been arrested and adverse comments made against him could have been avoided.

Asked whether Hazare's arrest was wrong, Dikhit replied in the affirmative. "It was wrong on the part of Delhi police. I would not say it was the decision of UPA government. But I think it was wrong on the part of Delhi police to arrest him," he told reporters


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