Anna to fast again over “Jokepal”

Terming the talks as “waste of time”, Anna slammed the government’s volteface over the Lokpal Bill.

Last Updated: Jun 16, 2011, 19:07 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: A day after the Joint committee talks over Lokpal Bill failed to reach a consensus, Team Anna reiterated their determination to continue their crusade against corruption and “fight till death”.

While addressing a press conference here on Thursday, the civil society members led by Anna appeared miffed by the government’s stern attitude which according to them was not keen to stop corruption in the country.

When journalists drew attention to the Baba Ramdev fiasco, Anna said that he was not afraid of the government’s crackdown and vowed to restart his fast from August 16 at Jantar Mantar.

Disappointed at the “drastic U-turn of government representatives” over the issue of Lokpal Bill, Anna Hazare said that he was surprised to hear that the two different versions of the Lokpal Bill were to be sent to the cabinet.

“I was surprised… The government has only been making empty promises. So far the government kept assuring us of reaching consensus, but now it has drastically backtracked,” said Anna.

Terming the talks as “a waste of time”, Anna slammed the government’s volteface over the bill and said that the government was not willing to curb corruption in the country.

“What was the need to make a joint commission if they had to present two different drafts of the Lokpal bill to the cabinet? What was the point in wasting so much time over talks?” asked Anna.

“I am not scared of lathicharge… I will fight till death”, said Anna.

Arvind Kejriwal, one of the prominent members of Team Anna, also echoed similar sentiments when he raised questions over the intentions of government representatives of the Lokpal committee.

“The meetings so far were sham. On April 16 government told us to prepare our draft. On May 2, we presented to them our 40-points draft… Out of the 40 points only 15 points have been so far agreed upon. Remaining points, the government said, will be discussed later. But they didn’t discuss anything in yesterday’s meeting,” said Kejriwal.

Questioning the transparency of the proceedings of the Lokpal meetings, Kejriwal said, “Why are the proceedings so non-transparent?”

Kejriwal said that he wanted a national debate on the Lokpal Bill, but the government was denying any public consultation till the final draft was completed.

Kejriwal also enlisted various points over which there was divergence between the two sides. He insisted that the Prime Minister, judiciary and the MPs must come under the ambit of the Lokpal, which the government was against.

Another point was the action on horse-trading committed by the MPs.

“In last 62 years, not a single MP who was caught horse-trading has been sent to jail, why ..”, questioned Kejriwal.

Yesterday, during the drafting committee meeting, the civil society members suggested that Lokpal should be empowered to probe corruption cases against officials doing away with the practice of conducting departmental probe along with a CBI enquiry. However, the government members rejected the demand.

The other issue discussed in the meeting was the structure of Lokpal. The Hazare team proposed an 11-member independent anti-corruption watchdog with subordinates having powers while the government side differed arguing that only 11 members be empowered to take all the decisions.

Kejriwal termed the meetings as farce and said that “not even 20% of the discussions have been completed yet.”

"The Government will bulldoze its own bill. It is not going to be a Lokpal but a jokepal bill," said Kejriwal.

The 10-member joint drafting committee of the Lokpal Bill had met yesterday for the seventh time and no consensus was reached.

It was decided at the meeting that two versions of the Lokpal Bill draft would be prepared and that the next meeting would be held on June 20.