Anna`s path fraught with consequences: PM

Under intense pressure from Opposition parties, PM Dr Manmohan Singh on Wednesday made a statement in Parliament over the arrest of social activist Anna Hazare and hundreds of his supporters by Delhi Police yesterday.

Last Updated: Aug 17, 2011, 18:34 PM IST

New Delhi: The path chosen by Anna Hazare is fraught with "grave consequences" for India`s parliamentary democracy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cautioned Wednesday, justifying the arrest of the social activist ahead of his planned fast-unto-death for a more powerful anti-graft legislation.

Hazare may be inspired by high ideals in his campaign to set up a strong anti-corruption watchdog, but the "path that he has chosen to impose his draft of a bill upon parliament is totally misconceived and fraught with grave consequences for our parliamentary democracy", the prime minister said in a statement in parliament on the arrest and subsequent release of Hazare Tuesday.

Manmohan Singh, who addressed both houses after the opposition demanded a statement from him, stressed that the issue before the nation was not whether a Lokpal bill, which is already in the Lok Sabha, was necessary or desirable.

"All of us in this house are agreed that a Lokpal bill must be passed as early as possible. The question is, who drafts the law and who makes the law?"

He said the executive drafts a bill and places it before parliament which debates and adopts the legislation, with amendments if necessary.

"I am not aware of any constitutional philosophy or principle that allows anyone to question the sole prerogative of parliament to make a law. In making a law on Lokpal, the government has faithfully adhered to the well-settled principles. As far as I am able to gather, Hazare questions these principles and claims a right to impose his Jan Lokpal bill upon parliament," the prime minister asserted.

In the process of adoption of the Lokpal bill, he said, there would be opportunities for Hazare and others to present their views to the standing committee to which this bill has been referred.

In his nearly 1,800-word statement, Manmohan Singh said it was his painful duty to report on Hazare`s arrest and added that every citizen had the right to hold peaceful protest but there was a way to do it.

"Our government does not seek any confrontation with any section of the society. But when some sections of society deliberately challenge the authority of the government and the prerogative of parliament, it is the bounden duty of the government to maintain peace and tranquility," Manmohan Singh told the Lok Sabha as opposition MPs intermittently shouted "shame, shame".

He said Delhi Police had taken the minimum steps necessary to maintain peace in the capital city.
"Inevitably, though unfortunately, it led to the arrest and subsequent release of Anna Hazare and some of his supporters. I sincerely hope that the incidents will not be repeated," he said.

The statement, which he later also read out in the Rajya Sabha, was made following persistent demands by a united opposition seeking details of the events that led to the arrest of Hazare.

The social activist and some of his colleagues have refused to be released and continue to remain inside the Tihar Jail. They say they will be inside the jail until allowed to carry on their hunger strike without any conditions.

IANS