Ralegan Siddhi: Activist Anna Hazare on Sunday accused the Modi government of "soft-pedalling" the Lokpal issue, saying the delay in constitution of the anti-corruption ombudsman has put a question mark on its "intention and credibility" to tackle graft.
He also underscored the need for launching an agitation on the issue and lent "moral support" to the planned demonstration at Jantar Mantar on January 30.
"There is a need to launch an agitation on the Lokpal bill issue. I recently met activists from seven states who had participated in the earlier stir and a demonstration will be organized at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on January 30 to press the issue being soft-pedalled by the Centre.
"The government's delaying tactics has put a question mark on its intent and credibility. The activists who are neutral to party politics will participate in the peaceful demonstration to which I have extended my moral support," Hazare told PTI.
A Parliamentary panel examining the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill had on December 7 submitted its recommendations. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, which examined Lokpal and Lokayuktas and Other Related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014, has cited overlapping of functions of anti-graft bodies and suggested integrating Central Vigilance Commission and anti-corruption wing of the CBI to work directly under the command and control of Lokpal to deal with corruption cases.
It also suggested inclusion of leader of the single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha, in case there is no recognised Leader of Opposition, as member of selection panel to choose chairperson and members of Lokpal.
If this recommendation is accepted by Parliament, it will pave the way for Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge to be part of Lokpal selection committee headed by Prime Minister. Hazare said the Lokpal bill initially proposed by the AAP government in Delhi assembly was weak but the legislation was made stronger following his intervention.
"Initially the bill was weak. I had then proposed 3-4 clauses that were incorporated subsequently. We should welcome that a beginning has been made. The bill will need necessary modifications with the passage of time," Hazare said.
The Delhi Assembly had in December passed the Janlokpal Bill, incorporating Hazare's suggestions.
The law provides for an ombudsman with powers to act against any government functionary including those of the Centre. The changes made included a provision for a larger selection committee.