Government initiates back channel talks; Anna rejects proposals

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New Delhi:  With Team Anna and the Government in a deadlock over the Lokpal Bill, the government is making efforts to hold back-channel talks with the Gandhian. Sources have told NDTV that the spiritual guru to Maharashtra leaders, Bhayyu Maharaj, has been selected as the main negotiator between the Government and Anna Hazare. They also say that Bhayyu Maharaj met Mr Hazare, alone, for an hour today.

Sources say the Government offered Team Anna four months time for the Lokpal Bill to be passed and also said it will put the Jan Lokpal Bill in front of the Standing Committee. Team Anna has, however, turned these offers down.

As part of the government strategy to engage with people who are associated with Mr Hazare in Maharashtra, Umesh Chandra Sarangi, Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra, is also in Delhi where he met Mr Hazare and his team. (Read: Who is Anna Hazare?) | (Read: What is Jan Lokpal Bill?)

Mr Sarangi had two rounds of meetings with Mr Hazare. Team Anna has, however, ruled out any compromise on its demand for bringing Prime Minister and higher judiciary within Lokpal's ambit.

Sources say the Government is looking for an early resolution.

Earlier today, Mr Hazare and his team said they have not closed the doors of dialogue with the government, but so far, no proposal has come to them for talks. (Read and watch: Anna says doors open for dialogue with Govt)

"We haven't closed the channel of communication, it is still open, discussions only lead to questions being addressed, people in the Government today haven't come from England, they are one of us but they have turned into traitors, no matter how much we talk, till the Lokpal Bill is passed, we will not step back," Mr Hazare had said while addressing his supporters.

"With whom and where should we discuss what?" Arvind Kejriwal, a key aide of Hazare, said announcing the five decisions taken at the core committee meeting of India Against Corruption this morning.

Team Anna's comments come a day after Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh hit a conciliatory note on Saturday saying there is a lot of scope for give and take. (Read and watch: Committed to strong Lokpal, says PM)

"We have presented a Lokpal Bill in Parliament. This was the demand of all political parties when I convened that conference (on July 3). They said we can't give you our viewpoint unless and until you come out with a draft. We have fulfilled that obligation. We are open to discussion and dialogue. We would like a broad national consensus to emerge. We are all in favour of Lokpal which is strong, which is effective. And, therefore, there is a lot of scope for give and take and our hope is that we can enlist the cooperation of all thinking segments of Indian public opinion to ensure that the end product is a strong and effective Lokpal, which all sections of our community want," said the Prime Minister.

He also said that Team Anna should understand that the legislative process does take time.

"Certain stages have to be crossed and we hope people will appreciate that there is a dynamic of legislative process that takes time to get over. We must work together to push forward the case for strong and effective Lokpal, and should remove obstacles in the way," the Prime Minister said.

Meanwhile, there's a massive buildup in the Ramlila Ground. According to the police, there are over 50,000 people at the protest venue. Around 5,000 activists also held a protest march from the India Gate to the Ramlila Ground.


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