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Govt Should Withdraw Lokpal Bill: Team Hazare Tells Par Panel

PTI 10 Aug 2011, 23:42:55 IST

New Delhi, Aug 10: Adopting a tough posture, team Anna Hazare today asked a Parliamentary panel to recommend to the government to withdraw the Lokpal Bill and come out with a fresh measure which deals with problem of corruption faced by the public.

Social activist Hazare said though the decision of the Parliamentary Committee to study the Jan Lokpal bill along with the government legislation was a “good thing”, he would continue with his August 16 indefinite fast if the panel did not take a decision by that date.

“My fast is against the government and not Parliament,” he said.

Hazare, senior lawyer Shanti Bhushan, his son Prashant, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi today appeared before the Standing Committee on Personnel and Law Justice to put forth their views on the government Lokpal Bill.

The Lokpal Bill, introduced in Lok Sabha on August 4, has been referred to the Standing Committee on August 8 by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari who has given it three months to give recommendations.

Talking to reporters after nearly two-and-a-half hours of meeting, Prashant Bhushan and Kejriwal said they asked the Committee to recommend to the government to withdraw the Lokpal Bill.

“The bill is designed to deter complainants from making complaints against corruption. It is designed to harass NGOs which are raising voice against corruption in government,” Bhushan said.

Meanwhile, a member of Hazare's core team Swami Agnivesh today created flutters by saying they were “very very flexible” on issues like bringing Prime Minister or higher judiciary under the ambit of the ombudsman, but sticking to the point of including lower bureaucracy in it.

When Kejriwal was asked to react on the statement of Agnivesh made in a TV programme, he did not say anything.

Contending that the Lokpal Bill does not deal with problems of corruption faced by common people, Bhushan said the bill needs to be “comprehensively rejected by the Standing Committee and recommend the same to the government.”

He said the government should bring a fresh bill which is “structurally sound” and helps create an empowered, independent and accountable Lokpal.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad, who is a member of the Standing Committee, said the panel will call several other people willing to place suggestions on the Lokpal Bill.

“Yes, even Baba Ramdev will be called,” he said in reply to a question, indicating that the August 16 deadline by Hazare for the committee to take a decision was no practical. Today's was the first meeting of the committee on Lokpal Bill.

Kejriwal said the scope of the government bill is the creation of a Lokpal alone and Lokayukta at the State level.

Answering a volley of questions on his proposed agitation, Hazare said if a bill “to provide justice to the people does not come,” his August 16 fast will continue.

“If things happen by 16th, then the agitation will stop,” he said referring to the demand of his team to the Committee to recommend to the government to withdraw the Lokpal Bill.

He said his agitation was not against Parliament but government as it has “cheated” his team by not fulfilling assurances made during the meetings of the Joint Drafting Committee.

Bedi told Committee members that they should rise above political affiliations before taking a decision on the Bill.

“We asked them to listen to what their voters have to say on the bill,” she said. PTI