Reacting to Parliament’s action after Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh handed over the prime minister’s letter, Anna Hazare announced to the cheering crowds in Ramlila Maidan, “I wish to break my fast tomorrow at 10am”
New Delhi: Social activist Anna Hazare will end his 12-old- day fast at 10am Sunday after Parliament today endorsed in principle three of his key demands to deal with corruption in a compromise between government and the Gandhian, reports PTI.
Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha went out of their way to discuss in a special sitting on Saturday an issue thrown up by the campaign of the 74-year-old activist who has been demanding enactment of Jan Lokpal for which he started a fast from 16th August.
There was confusion at the end of the day-long debate in both the Houses as Parliament was expected to vote a resolution.
Originally conceived as a resolution, Parliament converted its agreement on three issues raised by Mr Hazare—citizen’s charter, lower bureaucracy under Lokpal through an appropriate mechanism and establishment of Lokayukta in the states—and to remit them to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for giving its recommendations.
In his communication to Mr Hazare, prime minister Manmohan Singh conveyed to him that Parliament has passed a resolution on the three issues raised by him and appealed to him to call off his fast.
Reacting to Parliament’s action after Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh handed over Mr Singh’s letter, Mr Hazare announced to the cheering crowds in Ramlila Maidan that “I wish to break my fast tomorrow at 10am”.
“This victory of Jan Lokpal bill is a partial victory. A full victory is yet to be achieved,” he said while noting that Parliamentarians have respected his three demands.
“I congratulate them and express my gratitude to all MPs,” he said as celebrations broke out at the protest venue with crowds setting off fire crackers and dancing to the beating of drums and tunes of Lokpal anthem.
Mr Deshmukh was accompanied by Congress general secretary Vilas Muttemwar and East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit.
After Parliament expressing its ‘sense’, the prime minister said, “Parliament has spoken. The will of Parliament is will of the people.”
The rare action of Parliament came after major political formations Congress and BJP got together in a bid to end the stalemate arising out of Mr Hazare’s campaign against corruption.
In the debate in both the Houses, the main opposition backed the government’s stand seeking its help on discussing the three key demands of Mr Hazare.
There was unanimity that Constitution was supreme and Parliamentary procedures supremacy in law making cannot be questioned.
Though Mr Hazare’s commitment on anti-corruption was appreciated, a number of speakers attacked the statements made by his campaign managers on political parties, politicians and sometimes Parliament itself.
Pranab Mukherjee, finance minister and the government’s chief negotiator said he was happy that the impasse has been resolved which was created by fasting of Anna Hazare.
Winding up the day-long debate, Mr Mukherjee said while a ‘respected’ Gandhian with ‘massive support’ was on agitation, it was not always necessary to move in a ‘conventional straight jacket way’.
After the ‘Sense of the House’, Mr Mukherjee said “I do feel that on the basis of that, we can request Shri Anna Hazare to end his fast so that the so-called conflict between civil society, Parliament or political parties ends.”
He asserted that Parliament was supreme and law-making was its domain alone while others could give suggestions.
Setting tone for the debate, Mr Mukherjee said the country was at ‘cross-roads’ and asked lawmakers to give their serious and considered views on the ‘important’ and ‘genuine’ issues raised by Mr Hazare.
“For, everything that we do must be consistent with the principles enshrined within our Constitutional framework,” he said.
Mr Mukherjee said the situation was ‘moving out of hand’ and a ‘crisis’ had been created as he asked lawmakers to “seize the moment and demonstrate the commitment” in dealing with corruption which is “gnawing at the vitals of our polity”.
The BJP gave ‘consent’ to all the three issues under consideration of the two Houses.
“Sorry, we cannot go beyond a certain point. Legislation is the domain of legislators. Nobody other than Parliament can make a law. Others can give suggestions. Executive powers is also limited in making laws...Parliament alone can make law,” he said.
He questioned demands for withdrawal of the government’s Lokpal Bill, currently with the Standing Committee. “You have every right to criticise. What is the argument and justification for this demand for withdrawal of this bill?”
Referring to the government’s engagement Hazare team, he said, “We tried to convince them. I admit we have failed. We could not carry conviction with them. Neither I have intention to score a debating point nor do I have intention to contradict anyone.”
Mr Mukherjee said, “If we want to get back the confidence of people, we shall have to ensure that premier institutions should function as per norms and rules. If we do, many issues will be corrected automatically.”
Hailing the Constitution which has been described as the biggest ‘Magna Carta’, he said, “It is our responsibility to abide by the Constitution so that there is no conflict with the desire of our masters, so that there is no conflict. Our constitution is flexible enough to accommodate various ideas, it can accommodate various thoughts.”
In the Lok Sabha, leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj said, “History has given us an opportunity, which we should not miss. Let us not get into technicalities. We should give this country an effective, strong, free and impartial Lokpal.”
Leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said BJP finds considerable merit in Hazare’s three demands, including covering entire bureaucracy and Citizens’ Charter for public grievances under Lokpal and setting up Lokayuktas in states.
Maintaining that there should be no conflict with the Constitution and it was the responsibility of MPs to abide by the Constitution, the finance minister asserted in Parliament that legislation is the domain of the Parliament alone.
It is the first big victory for citizen empowerment. It is, hopefully, the beginning of a new India that will go through a cleansing of its governance processes. It is the beginning of a common man’s chance to exist with dignity and self-esteem. It is the beginning of a partnership between people and the political fraternity. It is all because of the courage of one small man, our dear Anna!
Neither the worst scams nor the might of muscle power could strip the thick armour that our politicians wore to keep away from the faceless people who vote them to power. A humble Gandhian with a smile, cheer and patience ripped it off. It is like the rays of the sun that make you shed a warm waistcoat. What a stupendous victory for citizen empowerment!
I thought the day of triumph would be yesterday (August 26) when Anna, who had become the face of the fight against corruption, would have forced a resolution on the anti-corruption bill and break his fast. However, Rahul Gandhi, who stormed into the Parliament after 10 days of complete silence, slammed the Jan Lokpal Bill by talking of `elevating’ the issue to a more superior constitutional body, independent of the government. I said to myself, ``it is as though the flood waters have reached his house and he is talking of rainwater harvesting’’ (I have tweeted this). I slept disappointed, my heart crying for Anna, left hungry for yet another day.
What will Sunday, August 29 have in store? Pranab Mukherjee’s assurance last night that discussion would be held in the Parliament for a resolution on the three crucial issues that Anna was adamant upon – bringing in the lower bureaucracy under the Lokpal, citizen charter and setting up of state lokayuktas, did not emit much confidence in me as the government, since the last three days, was showing the carrot and then sadistically taking it back, time and again. Nervously, I planned an evening of colorful art, music and prayers in Pune on Saturday, that was dedicated to Anna’s indefatigable spirit, not knowing whether Anna’s health would be a matter of concern by then or there was a miracle in store.
Saturday morning (that is today) began with the flash of `breaking news’ that BJP, the main opposition party, would support the Jan Lokpal Bill. The past few days the BJP had not given precise signals of its stand and so I was a bit worried. As the day progressed, I heard that the Congress too was not only supporting the three crucial points that Anna was adamant about but was ready to go even further.
As one Member of Parliament after another began voicing his or her opinion in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, my eyes welled in tears. What the government had said was impossible, had become possible. It has said that that the Lokpal bill would only be discussed in the winter session of the Parliament and certainly not in the Monsoon Session. Politicians across party lines suddenly seem to have melted in the ocean of peoples’ power. The incessant din of ``Anna Hazare Aage Badho’ and `Mein Bhi Anna, Tu Bhi Anna, Ab To Sara Desh Hei Anna’’ – had caught the political establishment by surprise. They had to climb down from their insistence the only they could frame laws. It was like witnessing a miracle where lakhs and lakhs of faceless citizens rallied around one small-built, humble and selfless Gandhian, Anna Hazare.
Just when things seemed to be heading the right way, I broke into a sweat on hearing Prashant Bhushan say that the government was retracting. Indeed, this real life movie seemed to be have more pulsating moments of ecstasy and agony than fiction. Thank God, it finally ended ``happily’’ enough for Anna to finally break his fast.
Indeed, something we never imagined had happened. India is witnessing the most historic post independence moment of citizen empowerment and victory. We are witnessing the true spirit and meaning of a vibrant democracy. And a defeat to the twisted notion of ``Parliament supremacy.’’ We are witnessing the beginning of a great partnership between the elected representatives and the people, at large.
The past fortnight has seen citizens stepping out of their indifferent oasis into a pro-active, public arena. An angry middle clase has finally been able to vocalise its anger, but in a peaceful, non-violent way. And we have witnessed the firebrand activism of the youth, which accounts for over 65 per cent of our population.
A whole nation has been awakened to the patriotic slogans that brought us our independence.
It was the feisty fight (without violence or arms) between a Gandhi Topi which modestly lived Gandhiji’s philosophy and the oldest political party which pretended to carry Gandhiji’s legacy. The latter had to finally relent and the motto of our National Emblem ``Satyameva Jayate' (Truth Shall Prevail) is suddenly looking a reality. Thank you Anna for your courage of conviction and supreme sacrifice, My heart can’t stop crying for you, this time, in utter happiness and admiration.
Nifty to move in the range of 4,680 and 5,100
The global slowdown and nervousness ahead of the US Federal Reserve chief's address to a gathering of central bankers from across the world on Friday pulled the market down this week. Concerns over domestic economic growth, the Reserve Bank of India lowering its growth expectations and the worsening paralysis in government following the widening anti-corruption movement, also weighed on investors, resulting in the market losing 2% this week, its fifth straight weekly loss.
The market closed higher on Monday and extended its gains the next day on support from European indices. The downgrade of Japan's sovereign ratings by Moody's pulled Asian markets lower on Wednesday and the Indian market also took a hit. On Thursday, the RBI, in its annual report, expressed concern over domestic growth and indications of a continuation of the tight monetary policy pulled the market further down on the last two trading days.
Overall, the Sensex declined 293 points, closing the week at 15,849, and the Nifty lost 98 points to 4,748. With the Nifty touching its 19-month low on Friday, the market could well regain some growth and some strength to move in the range of 4,680 and 5,100 on the Nifty.
While BSE TECk and BSE Capital Goods settled unchanged, BSE Metal and BSE Bankex declined 5%. There were no gainers in the sectoral list.
The top Sensex gainers this week were Bajaj Auto (up 5%), Bharti Airtel (up 4%), BHEL (up 3%), TCS (up 2%) and Hindustan Unilever (up 1%). The main losers on the index were Coal India (down 9%), Tata Steel, Jaiprakash Associates (down 8% each), State Bank of India and Maruti Suzuki (down 7% each).
The top performers on the Nifty were Bajaj Auto (up 5%), Bharti Airtel (up 4%), BHEL, Dr Reddy's Laboratories (up 3% each) and TCS (up 2%). The major losers were Reliance Capital (down 11%), Sesa Goa (down 9%), Punjab National Bank, Tata Steel and JP Associates (down 8% each).
Food inflation rose again to 9.8% for the week ended 13th August, from 9.03% in the previous week. In its Economic Outlook for 2011-12 published earlier this month, the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council had said that while pressure from food inflation had fallen in recent months, the rate of price rise still remained quite high, with the possibility of a surge in the coming months.
On Thursday, the RBI said India's economic growth could moderate to 8% in the current fiscal, from 8.5% a year ago, due to unfavourable developments. If global financial problems amplify and slow down global growth markedly, it would impart a downward bias to the growth projection, the central bank said.
In global news, US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke in his speech at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday refrained from announcing any new stimulus initiatives. But he added that should signs fail to materialize soon, the Fed's Open Market Committee would consider additional policy tools at its 20-21 September meeting, which has been extended to two days. Meanwhile, US GDP grew at a much slower rate of 1% in the second quarter, lower than the earlier estimated growth of 1.3%.
Moody's Investors Services on Tuesday downgraded its rating on Japan's bond rating to 'Aa3' from 'Aa2'. The agency said it lowered the rating because of Japan's large budget deficit and growing government debt. On Friday, Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan announced his resignation after almost 15 months in office. Mr Kan's resignation was expected since the devastating 11th March quake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster that sorely tested his leadership, and prompted accusations that he mishandled the crisis.