Efforts for a patch-up between the government and Anna Hazare finally reached solid ground today, the eighth day of Hazare's public fast for a strong anti-corruption body, and not long after he said he would stick to his 30 August deadline for the introduction of a Lokpal bill.
As law minister Salman Khurshid broke the ice and talked to Arvind Kejriwal, a part of 'Team Hazare', Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed Pranab Mukherjee, the cabinet's most senior member, to lead the government team of ministers in the talks.
The prime minister also dispatched a letter to Hazare at the Mahatma Gandhi follower's massive sit-in at Ramlila Maidan, urging him to end his hunger strike.
The prime minister in his letter repeatedly expressed concern about Hazare's health; and urged him to end his fast. "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," he wrote.
He also said that the parliamentary standing committee on law, justice and personnel would ask the Lok Sabha speaker for permission to study Hazare's version of the Lokpal bill. It has so far been only scrutinising the government's version of the bill, which Team Hazare has already rejected as too watery.
Earlier, the government had suggested that some features of team Hazare's draft could be added as amendments to the government's bill. The prime minister has gone a step further, suggesting that the Hazare version in its entirety may be discussed by the Parliament's standing committee, which comprises 31 MPs from different parties.