Ralegan Siddhi: Outrightly rejecting the draft report on Lokpal Bill of the Standing Committee of Parliament in its present form, Gandhian Anna Hazare on Tuesday made it very clear that he will agitate again if a strong bill is not passed in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.
In what can be perceived to be a warning to the government the social activist said, “Will fast for a day at Jantar Mantar on December 11. I request everyone to fast and protest wherever they are all over the country.” He added, “The Parliament is in session till December 22. If a strong Lokpal Bill is not passed, then will agitate again at Ramila grounds from December 27.”
On an emotional note Anna asked the people to support once more in his campaign to fight corruption like they earlier.
“All officers’ right from the village level to the top should be brought under the Lokpal ambit. Then only justice will be delivered to the poor. The divide between the rich and the poor has to be eradicated. Today’s Standing Committee report is betrayal with the people,” he categorically stated.
Anna also said, “We wanted the CBI to be brought under the Lokpal Bill too as the investigating agency is not independent. It works at the behest of the ruling party. All those who are in the jail are because of the uproar of the people.” How many ministers have gone to jail for corruption in the last 65 years in India, “he asked.
Anna lamented that the standing committee also went back on the assurance given by the Parliament on Citizens Charter.
He pointedly asked the government, “Why are you scared?” “This is the voice of the people. This not the voice of Anna Hazare and his team. If the government does not heed the voice of the people then they will suffer the consequences,” he advised the political class.
“On judiciary a separate bill is acceptable but the drafting should only not be done by the government only but experts from all walks of life should be consulted on the same.” Anna remarked. He also said that he had no problem in bringing NGOs taking funds from the government under the Lokpal Bill.
The Gandhian revealed that he will tour five states where Assembly Elections are due and enlighten the public on the issue of graft.
“Truth is never defeated. The path of truth is full of hurdles, he said when asked on the FIR that was lodged against Kiran Bedi for cheating and misappropriation of funds.
Meanwhile reacting to Anna’s threat to once again protest against the government, the Congress said that the social activist should have some patience. “Ultimately the Parliament will pass the bill. There is a procedure to do these things. The Standing Committee has not sent its recommendations to the Parliament. Without knowing the recommendations, Anna Hazare has made up his mind to oppose the government,” said Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi.
Earlier today members of Team Anna had also criticised the Parliamentary Standing Committee`s draft report on Lokpal Bill. They flayed the government for the exclusion of judiciary from the ambit of the ombudsman while opposing inclusion of NGOs and media in
Reacting to the panel`s draft report, Arvind Kejriwal sought to remind the government of the Parliamentary resolution that led to Anna Hazare ending his fast on August 28, saying he hoped it would be respected.
"When Anna ended his fast, Parliament agreed to a resolution that stated clearly on lower bureaucracy and Citizen`s Charter. We just hope that resolution is respected," Kejriwal said.
Opposing the decision to exclude judiciary from the ambit of Lokpal, he said, "We were told that the corruption by judges will be handled in the Judicial Accountability Bill (JAB). It is not in the JAB. It is not in the Lokpal Bill."
Another Team Anna member Kiran Bedi called the exclusion of judiciary a setback as people "overwhelmingly" wanted judiciary in. "By this, corruption in judiciary is covered
nowhere, neither in JAB nor in Lokpal," she said.
"We fully agree that there is a lot of corruption in NGOs as well as in the media, but Lokpal as it was envisioned since 1968 is meant to be an agency that will cover corruption as defined by the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA),” Kejriwal said.
"To deal with NGOs there is a Registrar of Society and Trust Act. We need to strengthen it but we demand inclusion of government-funded NGOs as they come under the purview of PCA.
For media, Press Council should be strengthened," he said.
However, Bedi welcomed the proposal to bring corporates, media and NGOs under the ambit of Lokpal.