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After Lokpal, Anna Wants to Fight For Farmers, Electoral Reforms

New Delhi, Aug 20 :  Gandhian  Anna Hazare's fast demanding a strong Lokpal to tackle corruption crossed 100 hours here today, with the Gandhian expanding ambit of his fight to include electoral reforms and a
PTI August 20, 2011 15:52 IST
PTI

New Delhi, Aug 20 :  Gandhian  Anna Hazare's fast demanding a strong Lokpal to tackle corruption crossed 100 hours here today, with the Gandhian expanding ambit of his fight to include electoral reforms and a farmer-friendly land acquisition law As his fast entered the fifth day, his team said they were ready to talk to the government but no such communication channels have been opened so far but insisted the August 30 deadline set by the Gandhian for passing of Jan Lokpal Bill should be met with.

With the government indicating that the deadline could not met with, the Team said it appeared to be an exercise which will waste the time of people and Parliamentarians and demanded that the Jan Lokpal Bill be introduced in Tuesday.  Hazare, who addressed the gathering at Ramlila Maidan twice in the day, said the funds in government treasuries were being threatened not by thieves but from those guard it and the country is being threatened by these traitors. 

“Why should we fight? The funds in government treasuries are ours. The treasuries are not threatened by thieves but by those who guards it. The country is not betrayed by enemies but by these traitors,” the Gandhian said.  He told the gathering the fight will not end with the passage of Lokpal Bill but they have be ready for a longer struggle for electoral reforms as well as ensuring farmers' right to their land.

“I want to tell the youth of this country that this fight should not be stopped with Lokpal alone. We have fight for removing the faults of the present electoral reforms. Because of the fault in electoral system, 150 criminals have reached Parliament,” Hazare said.

Hazare said the country actually did not get “actual freedom” even after 64 years of independence and the only change was that “the whites have been replaced by the blacks”.  “The same loot, same corruption, same rowdyism still exists,” he said.

Touching upon the contentious issue of land acquisition, he said there was a need to fight for a proper law regarding this.

“After the fight for Lokpal, we will also have to fight for farmers' rights. Bring a law that ensures permission of gram sabhas before acquiring land of farmers,” Hazare said.  Noting that the chain of corruption should be broken, he said, “Government is giving land to the companies which employs labourers and suck their blood. They tell the labourers you ensure production or else you will lose job.  “Is this democracy? All have come together to make money.

The chain of corruption has to be broken,” he said.  Earlier, Hazare came to the podium at around 10 am as supporters started pouring in Ramlila Maidan where he launched his protest yesterday after coming out of Tihar Jail.  He said he has lost three-and-half kg in the last four days. “I feel a little weak. But there is nothing to worry about it. The fight will go on till we get a strong Lokpal,” Hazare said in his brief address to the gathering.  Activists Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia said the Team was ready to talk to the government on the issue of Lokpal Bill but no one has approached them.

“We are ready to talk to the government but there is no communication from their side. Where should we go to talk and whom should we talk to?” Kejriwal and Sisodia said.  Hazare had yesterday raised the political stakes by giving a deadline to the government to pass the Jan Lokpal bill by August 30 failing which he would continue his fast “till my last breath”.
 
On the deadline, former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan said the government can pass it within days if it has a “strong will” to do it. “It can happen. I have been a Union Law Minister and I know how things happen in government,” he said.  Bhushan indicated that they were open to minor changes in the Jan Lokpal Bill and said an assurance from the government to the Gandhian on his demand will be like showing respect for the public sentiment demanding action against corruption. 

Asked whether the deadline was a little impractical, Kejriwal told reporters, “If the government desires, it can pass 15 bills in five minutes. But for the anti-corruption bill, they are taking more than 42 years. So we want to know how many more years will they take?”

The government version encourages corruption and saves the corrupt, Kejriwal alleged and demanded that the Lokpal Bill introduced in Parliament be “rejected completely” and the Jan Lokpal Bill be replaced by it.

Reacting to newspaper advertisements seeking suggestions from public on Lokpal Bill, Kejriwal said it appeared to be an exercise which will waste the time of people and Parliamentarians.

“We appeared before the Standing Committee earlier and told them that the present bill is actually for promotion of corruption and save the corrupt people. It ends up in targeting those who complain against corruption,” he said.  Kejriwal said they had urged the Standing Committee to reject the bill and send it back to Parliament. “It is wasting precious time on a wrong and faulty bill,” he said.  “This seeking of feedback is basically to divert attention,” he said.

Asked about some MPs, including BJP's Varun Gandhi, planning to introducing Jan Lokpal Bill as private bills, he said private bills do not achieve much. PTI