Mangalore: Karnataka Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) and a civil society member on the Lokpal bill drafting committee N Santosh Hegde on Sunday denied any rift with the Anna Hazare team and said he would attend the panel`s meetings.
Hegde said he will not be able to attend the Monday meeting due to his prior commitments, but would attend the one on Tuesday.
"I`m not able to attend the meetings of the joint drafting panel Monday due to prior commitments. But there is no rift among the civil society members of the Lokpal drafting committee, and that is exactly the reason why I will go to Delhi to attend the meeting. I want to show it to the media with the Anna team," Hegde told a news channel.
Hegde also clarified that his comment on Anna Hazare`s hunger strike was just a suggestion that he made, which was being mistaken as a rift. On Saturday, he had urged Hazare not to fast again if the Lokpal bill is not passed by August 15, and instead tour the country and meet people over the issue.
"I personally felt that it will be better if Anna Hazare goes around India and mobilises people`s support against corruption. If Anna goes on a strike, I will fully support him," Hegde added.
Hegde, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, is one of the five civil society members on the 10-member panel that includes five central cabinet ministers.
The other civil society members are Hazare, social activist Arvind Kejriwal and lawyers Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant. The government side is represented by Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, M Veerappa Moily and Salman Khursheed.
Meanwhile, Prashant Bhushan stressed that the country needs an independent body like the proposed Lokpal.
"We need an independent body to go into corruption as well as misconduct and misbehaviour by the judiciary. But that body must be a credible body and should be independent of the government as well as independent of the judiciary. The Lokpal is precisely such a body," said Bhushan in New Delhi.