PM writes to Anna to end fast, picks old hand Pranab mediator

After a week's standoff, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the 'pacify Anna' operation from the front on Tuesday evening, personally writing a letter to the social activist, picking seasoned troubleshooter Pranab Mukherjee to talk to his team and even assuring the Gandhian that the government would explore possibilities to make his Bill part of the legislation process.

There was enough indication from morning that a face-saving strategy was evolving in the government's corridors soon after it convened an all-party meeting on Wednesday to arrive at a wider political consensus on the Janlokpal version.

In a letter to Hazare the PM requested him to end the fast -- Singh said the government would ask the Lok Sabha Speaker if Hazare's version of the Lokpal Bill could be sent to the Standing Committee, which is already examining the government's Bill.

Standing Committee would then be formally asked to "fast track their deliberations to the extent reasonably feasible", Singh wrote.

Singh said his government's objective was "identical" to that of Hazare and would talk to anybody to enact a "constitutionally-valid and the best possible Lokpal" while keeping in mind Parliamentary supremacy and Constitutional obligations.

"Over the last few days, I have watched with increasing concern the state of your health," he wrote to the civil activist who is fasting at Ramlila grounds for a strong Lokpal.

"Despite the differences between the government and your team, I do not think anybody is or should be in any doubt about the deep and abiding concern which I and our government share about your health, arising from your continuing fast," the Prime Minister said.

The letter is actuated by the "twin considerations of deep and genuine concern about your health and the emergence of a strong and effective Lok Pal Act in accordance with established constitutional precept and practice," Singh wrote.

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