New Delhi: Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Tuesday wrote an open letter to parliamentarians exhorting them to prevent introduction of the Lokpal Bill.
Branding the bill as “anti-poor” Hazare said that there were many critical issues affecting the common man which had been left out in the bill.
"I regret to share that many issues which were addressing the common man`s persisting concerns have been totally overlooked in the bill… It is my hope that the institution of the Parliament will continue to uphold its glorious heritage and prevent introduction of such an anti-poor bill by the government," he said.
The anti-corruption crusader said that the government version of Lokpal, approved by the cabinet, would not allow the MPs to debate those critical issues.
“Introduction of such a defectively structured bill is an affront to the honourable parliamentarians, who do not have the option of debating on some of the critical issues that we had raised for a strong anti-corruption act”, the anti-corruption crusader said.
The civil society led by Anna Hazare have been demanding inclusion of Prime Minister, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament under the ambit of Lokpal.
The Hazare team is also demanding a strong public grievance redressal mechanism, lokayuktas at state-level and independent selection, funding and removal mechanism to ensure autonomy of function.
The Lokpal Bill cleared by the cabinet seeks to keep the office of the Prime Minister outside the purview of the ombudsman during his term in office and also exclude higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament.
The Lokpal, consisting of chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial, will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions.
Dissatisfied with the government version of the anti-graft Lokpal bill, Hazare has decided to go on fast from Aug 16.
Team Anna defiant on Aug 16 plan
The core committee of social activists led by Anna Hazare on Tuesday declared that the government version of the Lokpal Bill is unacceptable to them and renewed pledge to continue their campaign for a strong and comprehensive anti-corruption legislation.
Addressing reporters outside the Noida residence of eminent lawyer Shanti Bhushan, noted RTI activist Arvind Kejariwal said, “The draft of the Lokpal Bill prepared by the government and cleared by the Union Cabinet is totally unacceptable to us since it is anti-poor, anti-farmer and lacks various points suggested by us (civil society).”
Kejariwal further stated that Anna Hazare has enormous support from all quarters and there will be no change in his plan to hold an indefinite fast from August 16.
“Today we have received a letter from Delhi Police in which they have denied us permission to hold the hunger strike at Jantar Mantar. They (Delhi Police) have cited two reasons for this. First they have asked us to define the indefinite fast…..how long will it continue. Secondly, they have asked us to tell them exactly how many people will join Anna Hazare at the venue of his indefinite fast.”
The RTI activist informed that the civil society activists have decided to send one more letter to Delhi Police seeking permission to hold fast on any of the five venues: Shahid Park, Raj Ghat, Boat Club, Jantar Mantar and Ramlila Maidan.
The civil society members have no objection in holding fast at any venue within three km radius of Jantar Mantar, if it is well connected by means of transport, Kejariwal said.