‘Centre should have flexible stand over Lokpal’

The government should show some flexibility over the formulation of an effective anti-graft legislation.

Hyderabad: Hitting out at the Centre for coming up with a "toothless" Lokpal Bill, former BJP President Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said, the government should show some flexibility over the formulation of an effective anti-graft legislation and end the stand-off over the issue.

"We have been saying that government should take initiative and hold dialogue with civil society so that the stalemate can be resolved. But the government delayed it. I have come to know that the government is now holding talks with civil society," he told reporters here.

The government should show flexibility in its stance on the Lokpal issue, he said.

"Negotiations are on. Civil society members have already said, they will accept any genuine issues that may crop up."

Slamming the government for coming up with a "toothless" Lokpal Bill, Singh said the BJP favours a strong and effective ombudsman and also some systemic changes to root out corruption from the country.

Hazare`s fast is justified as he is fighting for a cause, he said.

Singh, who yesterday visited some villages in coastal Andhra, where a crop holiday has been declared by farmers in distress, demanded that a special package be announced to help them.

The crop holiday has been declared, particularly in East and West Godavari districts, by farmers as their produce was not purchased at a minimum support price (MSP) after escalation of cultivation costs, lack of godown space to store their produce and frequent floods among others.

Singh and other BJP leaders met Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy today and placed various demand to help the farmers.

"Declaration of crop holiday is a protest, first of its kind by the farmers in the country. If the government does not act promptly to redress the problems immediately, the same situation may spread to many other areas in the state. If timely action is not taken, the very objective of food security bill will be defeated," a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister said.

The demands made by the BJP include: the Central and state governments should purchase the paddy directly from the farmers without involvement of middlemen as in Chattisgarh and Punjab; Restrictions on the movement of food grains should be removed and the whole country should be treated as a single zone; Separate budget for agriculture should be adopted as in Karnataka; The government should pay appropriate compensation for the crop holiday declared farmers for their livelihood.

Singh said, the Chief Minister replied that a committee headed by a former Chief Secretary has been appointed to study the issue and suggest remedial measures.


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