`Will accept Parl`s rejection of Lokpal Bill`

Hazare said Parliament is supreme and would accept its decision if it rejects the Lokpal Bill.

Last Updated: Apr 18, 2011, 00:28 AM IST

New Delhi: In an apparent softening of
stand, Anna Hazare on Sunday said Parliament was supreme and would
accept its decision if it rejects the Lokpal Bill.

Hazare also showed some flexibility on the August 15
deadline he had set for passage of the Lokpal Bill by
Parliament saying he was open to extending it if he found that
the government was on the right path.

"We will have to accept it. We believe in democracy,"
Hazare said in reply to a question on what would be his stand
if Parliament rejected the Lokpal Bill drafted jointly by the
government and representatives of the civil society.

Hazare, who called off his fast on April 9 after
the government notified a Joint Draft Committee, had set August 15
deadline for passage of the Bill failing which he would again
go on a fast.

"There can be some flexibility once we are convinced that
the Bill is on the right track," he said in an informal
interaction with a group of journalists.

However, he felt that it could be possible for Parliament
to take a decision on the Bill within a month.

Hazare agreed with a questioner that his method of
agitation could be called "terrorism of principles" so long
the motive behind it was public good.

"It is not wrong to say that we are engaging in terrorism
on principles. But it has to have an element of public welfare
in it. This is necessary, otherwise it would lead to
dictatorship," he said.

Hazare said he was open to have wider consultations on
the Lokpal Bill and was also willing to involve the political
leadership of the country.

"We have to take everyone into confidence, including the
political class. If they have doubts we will discuss with
chiefs of political parties," he said.

He said he was open to discuss other drafts of the Lokpal
Bill which the government had said it has received from
various other organisations.

Hazare admitted that corruption would not end with the
passage of the Lokpal Bill, but it would definitely help curb
such practices to some extent.

He favoured stricter laws for government servants,
including one that made declaration of assets compulsory for
everyone.

For politicians, he said the law should have provisions
for automatic launch of investigations if there was a large
difference in the assets declared by them between two
consecutive elections.

Dismissing allegations of links with the RSS, Hazare said
"I never went close to them nor have I allowed them to get
close to me. I have never shared the same dias with RSS."

Asked the reasons behind his prominent supporters not
joining him on fast-unto-death on the Lokpal Bill, Hazare said
it had been decided earlier that only he would sit on fast.

The fast which began on April 5 was called off after 98
hours following a Gazette notification by the government on
constituting a joint drafting committee on the Lokpal Bill.

RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, former IPS officer Kiran
Bedi and social activist Swami Agnivesh were among those who
were in talks with the government for a solution as Hazare
continued with the agitation.

"There was a clear distribution of work among ourselves.
If everybody had sat on fast, who would have held talks with
government," Hazare said when asked why Kejriwal, Bedi or
lawyer Shanti Bhushan did not join the fast.

Hazare said he would undertake a tour of 20 states
beginning this month-end at Lucknow to take the message of
fight against corruption to the people.

He categorically ruled out contesting elections or
floating a political party and said his aim was clear -- to
continue to fight for public good.

"I will distance myself from any person who would try to
make political capital out of this agitation," he said.

Hazare said he would insist on videography of the
proceedings of the joint committee meetings from the next
meeting onwards.

"We were told the drawbacks of telecasting the meetings of
the joint drafting committee. So, we agreed on not telecasting
the same. We came to know only later that only audio recording
of the meeting was done. What is the harm in videography? I
will insist on video recording of the entire proceedings at
the next meeting," he said.

PTI