Anna ok with Lokpal being a constitutional body

Pune: Anna Hazare on Thursday said that he had no objection to making Lokpal a constitutional authority, as suggested by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, provided that it faced no governmental interference.

"I am not opposed to the Lokpal being made a constitutional authority on the lines of Election Commission, which is an autonomous body. But there should not be any governmental interference in the functioning. It was ten years ago that EC had written to the government on 'right to reject', but still it has not become a law," Hazare said, talking to agency here.

To a query, the anti-corruption crusader wondered why some people opposed inclusion of Prime Minister in the ambit of the proposed Lokpal bill. "If Prime Minister is included, it will raise the status of the institution of Lokpal. If one is clean, why should he be afraid of such inclusion?"

Hazare, who was in Pune in connection with a court case involving former Maharashtra minister Suresh Jain, said the Lokpal should have a wide jurisdiction, including over the lower bureaucracy, so that it could offer relief to the common man harassed by corrupt officials.

Hazare said he would undertake a one-day protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on December 11, as the Standing Committee on Lokpal bill had not considered all his demands.

He also claimed that fifty per cent of MPs had conveyed their support to the Jan Lokpal bill during the talks with his associates.

"While most of the political parties are supporting our bill, Trinamool Congress and BSP have not made their stand clear so far," he said.

Hazare reiterated that he would launch a fresh fast at Ramlila maidan in Delhi on December 27, if the government failed to get the Lokpal bill passed in the winter session of the Parliament.

Asked to comment on the NCP workers' protest in Delhi condemning his reaction to the assault on union agriculture minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar last month, Hazare said, "Those who shouted slogans against me at the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi had no moral standing."

Hazare's instant reaction on learning about attack on Pawar ("just one slap?") had caused the activist a great embarrassment, and forced him to issue a clarification.