Hazare writes to PM on Lokpal issue

Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare Tuesday shot off a letter to PM Manmohan Singh, slamming the reaction of his government and Congress to his indefinite fast on Lokpal Bill issue.

New Delhi: Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare Tuesday shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, slamming the reaction of his government and Congress to his indefinite fast on Lokpal Bill issue, and urged him to
show courage to take unprecedented steps to fight the menace.

Responding to Congress` criticism that his protest was
"premature", 72-year-old Hazare said authorities resort to
"malicious slandering" whenever cornered and asserted that he
was not a kind of person who could be "instigated" into going
on an indefinite fast. He alleged that "their spokespersons
are misleading the nation".

Hazare, who launched his fast-unto-death yesterday
here, told reporters that he was willing to join a committee
on the bill issue only if Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was a
member of it, maintaining that any other such body would lack

Referring to criticism of his protest, Hazare said in
the letter, "Dear Manmohan Singhji, this is an insult to my
sense of wisdom and intelligence.... I take advice from many
friends and critics but do what my conscience directs me to

"It is my experience that when cornered, governments
resort to such malicious slandering. I am pained that the
government, rather than addressing the issue of corruption, is
trying to allege conspiracies when there are none," he said.

In the letter, Hazare said the activists were not
asking for accepting the Bill drafted by them but create a
"credible platform" -- a joint committee with at least half
members from civil society.

"Your spokespersons are misleading the nation when
they say that there is no precedent for setting up a joint
committee. At least seven laws in Maharashtra were drafted by
similar joint committees and presented in state Assembly.

"Even at the Centre, when 25,000 tribals came to Delhi
two years ago, your government set up a joint committee on
land issues within 48 hours. You (Singh) yourself are the
Chairperson of that Committee. This means the government is willing to set up joint committees on all other issues but not corruption. Why?" he said in the letter.
Addressing the press at the protest site at Jantar
Mantar here, Hazare said there is a talk of joint committee
but they are constituting such a committee without any powers.

"Is (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi in there? We will
not go to any committee which does not have any powers.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan requested me to
attend the committee. If Sonia is ready to attend the meeting,
we are ready. If she is not ready, why should we go," he said.
Hazare, however, said Singh is a "good man" who is not
tainted by corruption. "Remote control se gadbadi hote hei.
(The problems are created when a remote control operates ),"
he said. )

On questions about Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar
whom he had criticised yesterday, Hazare said the question was
not whether Pawar is removed or not from the Group of
Ministers on corruption issue.

"If Pawar is removed, his brother will come there.
What we need is not a committee of ministers. We need a
committee involving public," he said.
Hazare said he was ready to die for his cause. "Some
people have given contract to kill me. Somebody has given Rs
30 lakh to kill me. But they say they will not kill Anna but
they say they will kill Anna`s men," he claimed.

Asked whether he and his supporters will support the
government if they decide to bring the Lokpal Bill in Monsoon
session, Hazare said they are ready for it.

"But tell us what is in this bill. They will make a
`golmaal` draft. They will cheat us. We repeat our demand for
a joint committee," he said.

Countering allegations that he had shown impatience,
Hazare said in the letter to Singh that every government has
shown "complete insensitivity and lack of political
commitment" to tackle corruption.
He said, "Sixty-three years after independence, we
still do not have independent and effective anti-corruption
systems. Very weak versions of Lokpal Bill were presented in
Parliament eight times in last 42 years. Even these weak
versions were not passed by Parliament.

"This means, left to themselves, the politicians and
bureaucrats will never pass any law which subjects them to any
kind of objective scrutiny. At a time when the country has
witnessed scams of unprecedented scale, the impatience of the
entire country is justified. And we call upon you, not to look
for precedents, but show courage to take unprecedented steps."


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