PM Manmohan Singh appeals to Baba Ramdev to call off his fast

PM Manmohan Singh appeals to Baba Ramdev to call off his fast
New Delhi The Government seems to be under pressure, and does not want another mass movement like Anna Hazare's galvanising the people.  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has appealed to Yoga guru Baba Ramdev to call off his proposed fast against corruption.

In a letter to Ramdev, the Prime Minister said, "Corruption is a big problem and we are making serious efforts to tackle it. It's not a divisive issue. We have to work with Baba Ramdev and look for solutions. I have already asked him not to take recourse to an agitation."

There is still time and we would like all concerned to cooperate, the PM said in his letter.

Baba Ramdev had earlier said he will start a 'satyagraha' against corruption and black money and go on an indefinite fast from June 4, demanding that the government bring back black money stashed in tax havens abroad. (Watch: No question of calling off fast, says Ramdev)

"My hunger strike will go ahead. There is no question of calling off the protest plan till my demands are met and till talks reach a satisfactory conclusion," Baba Ramdev told NDTV speaking from Madhya Pradesh, where he is conducting a yoga camp.

And despite the government's appeal, the yoga guru has said he will not back down from his fasting plans.

Meanwhile, differences are appearing in the Lokpal bill panel, formed after the government gave into Anna Hazare's fast-unto-death against corruption last month.

Chinks are beginning to be seen in the armour after differences over the demand for inclusion of the Prime Minister and higher judiciary under the purview of the Lokpal.

Baba Ramdev, who staunchly supported Mr Hazare's campaign, now says that questions shouldn't be asked of the foremost leaders in a democracy, but added that he did not want to go into the controversial issue.

"People holding positions in the Constitution should be included in it. But I don't want to get into the controversy of inclusion of the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice; it is a very critical question. It is a serious matter if there are unnecessary comments made about the person holding a senior position in the democracy. If the Chief Justice does not understand his work then how can we say the Lokayukta will be better?" Baba Ramdev said.

Yesterday, after a three-hour meeting, the government had refused to concede to the basic principles demanded by Anna Hazare and his nominees.

The two sides disagreed on the Prime Minister coming under the purview of the Lokpal. They further disagreed over the inclusion of judiciary under the Lokpal. The government was of the view that it should be self-regulatory, but the civil society members disagreed.

While the government is refusing to blink, it will stay the course, given how Hazare's fast against corruption caught the public imagination. Worried about another mass movement along the lines of Mr Hazare's anti-corruption movement, the government does not want Ramdev to proceed.

Meanwhile, RTI activist and one of the prominent supporters of Mr Hazare's campaign, Arvind Kejriwal, told NDTV that he will try to convince Ramdev on inclusion of PM under the Lokpal.

"You tell me what should we compromise on, we need PM, judiciary and bureaucracy to be covered by Lokpal. If this is not covered, is that the Lokpal we want? We will talk to Baba Ramdev, he has problem with the inclusion of only Chief Justice of India and the Prime Minister," he said. (Watch: Will try to convince Baba Ramdev, says Arvind Kejriwal)

States, political parties need to be consulted: Govt

The inclusion of the Prime Minister under the ambit of the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill does not have to be a straight forward 'Yes or No' choice says the Government..  According to Home Minister P Chidambaram, "This is not a binary choice...there could be a yes, no or a yes with qualifications."

Responding to reports that talks on the Lokpal bill are stalled, Mr Chidmabaram, who is one of the government members on the panel drafting the Bill, said states and parties will be asked whether Prime Minister, higher judiciary and MPs' acts inside Parliament should be brought within the ambit of the Lokpal. (Watch: No unanimity amongst civil society members: Chidambaram)

"We will try our best to draft Lokpal Bill by June 30," he added

Story First Published: May 31, 2011 15:48 IST

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