PM hopeful but says ‘anything can happen’

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government was doing its best to “defuse the situation” created by the protest fast of Anna Hazare with its snowballing support but expressed concern that “anything can happen”.

After the all-party meeting on the Lokpal bill, Manmohan Singh said it was difficult to say what turn things would take in the next few days.

“I am not an astrologer,” he said in response to a question whether he was optimistic about a solution in the next few days. “But I remain hopeful.”

Manmohan Singh said the protesters should “listen to the political class”, a reference to the resolution passed at the all-party meeting he convened Wednesday evening to find a solution to the crisis triggered by Hazare’s fast, which entered the ninth day Wednesday amid reports of his failing health.

He expressed concern that “hardliners might prevail” in the current standoff situation and violence might break out.

Earlier, speaking to journalists, he admitted the government was in a “bind” from which it has to come out with “practical and pragmatic” solutions.

Political parties issued a joint statement at the end of the all-party meeting that due consideration should be given to Hazare’s Jan Lokpal bill so that the final draft of the legislation provides for a “strong and effective” ombudsman.

“The meeting of all parties in parliament requests Anna Hazare to end his fast. The meeting was also of the view that due consideration should be given to the Jan Lokpal bill so that the final draft of the Lokpal bill provides for a strong and effective Lokpal which is supported by a broad national consensus,” the statement said. (IANS)