Never closed doors for talks with Team Anna: Congress (Lead)

August 1st, 2012 - 9:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Anna Hazare New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) The Congress Wednesday said it has never closed the doors for talks with Team Anna currently agitating for a strong Lokpal bill here.

The party also sought to play down the threat from the fasting activists against their forcible removal from Jantar Mantar.

Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said they had never closed the doors for talks but called upon Team Anna members to exercise restraint in their use of words.

“We have kept our doors open and we have always been communicating. I’m not competent to make any appeal. I’m saying that we have never ever closed our doors,” she said here.

Chowdhury said the decision to go on an indefinite fast and not to talk had been taken by Team Anna members “arbitrarily.”

“The decision has been taken individually, arbitrarily by them. It is their decision. How can we speak for them?” she said.

The Congress leader also took exception to Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal’s remarks that he would die if taken to a government hospital and people should take him out if he was taken to a government health facility.

“I do not know what he is doing. It is a dangerous thing for him to talk like that. We just hope he will take care of his health. What the government will do and what we think … it is our business. We don’t think he should worry about that. He should first concentrate on his own health,” she said.

Chowdhury’s remarks came hours after Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh indicated that the government could force-feed the activists if they continued with their indefinite fast.

“The government cannot allow people to die. Therefore, the government has to look into it,” Singh told a news channel.

He had also said that talks could not be held at “gun point” and called upon Anna Hazare and his team members to end their fast.

“My experience as a chief minister is that all issues can be sorted through dialogue,” he said.

Kejriwal, a diabetic, whose health condition has caused concern, said Wednesday he was feeling weak but would not go to a government hospital where he feared he would surely die.

While Hazare’s fast against corruption entered the fourth day, Team Anna members, including Kejriwal, have been off food since a week.

Doctors said though they were weak, their condition was stable.

Hazare Wednesday warned the government that there would be no talks if fasting members of his team were forcibly removed from Jantar Mantar.

The Delhi Police asked the activists to heed the medical advice given by the doctors attending them.

Congress sources said the government was unlikely to make a special gesture at this juncture to reach out to Team Anna. They said the team had also not shown any eagerness for talks.

Apart from a strong Lokpal bill, Team Anna is also demanding a special investigation team to probe allegations of corruption against several union ministers.

The Congress has all along maintained that the government had made determined efforts to get the Lokpal bill passed in parliament but it got stuck in Rajya Sabha due to lack of numbers.

It has also said the the ministers against whom Team Anna has levelled allegations have been cleared by courts or have given their responses publicly.

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