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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had initiated a mechanism to consider suggestions from civil society activists on the anti-graft Lokpal Bill, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said Wednesday.

Replying to queries about social activist Anna Hazare’s indefinite fast for a stronger and more comprehensive Lokpal Bill to tackle corruption, Soni said the prime minister had offered to discuss the suggestions.

She said he had constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) for dicussions on the bill with civil society activists.

‘That shows the credence attached to it (the process of consultations),’ Soni said.

She said civil society activists wanted a joint committee to finalise the bill but the government had to function with procedures in mind. According to the minister, there should be no ego issues in discussions on the bill.

Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said the government and the party were committed to the crusade against corruption.

Terming Hazare’s fast ‘premature’, she said the Lokpal Bill had been discussed in the party and the National Advisory Council headed by United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi had also considered it.

Hazare and over 100 supporters are sitting on an indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar in Delhi demanding the involvement of civil society in drafting the Lokpal bill.

The fast was taken up after sub-committee of GOM that discussed the bill with civil society members did not accept their demand of having a joint committee on the bill.

The activists are demanding the government adopt the alternative Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by leading legal experts and personalities, including Arvind Kejriwal, former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

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