Show Some Courage On Lokpal Bill, Anna Hazare Writes To PM

Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra, Jan 22: In a bid to project a non-partisan face, Anna Hazare and his team on Sunday shot off a series of letters to leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi
show some courage on lokpal bill anna hazare...
PTI 22 Jan 2012, 21:20:56 PM IST

Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra, Jan 22: In a bid to project a non-partisan face, Anna Hazare and his team on Sunday shot off a series of letters to leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Bharatiya Janata Party President Nitin Gadkari, trying to put them on the mat on the Lokpal issue ahead of Assembly polls in five states.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav were the other recipients of letters signed by Hazare and his team members Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi.

While in the letter to Singh, signed only by Hazare, the prime minister is asked to show some courage to withdraw the "weak" Lokpal Bill and bring a stronger one, the one to Rahul Gandhi asked the Congress leader whether his party will dare bring a law on the lines of "strong" Lokayukta law in Uttarakhand.

"You have turned 80 and this country has given you everything. Now the county is asking something in return... show courage to push for a stringent Lokpal bill. You had put your government at stake for passing the civil nuclear liability bill, now show courage for a strict anti-corruption law," Hazare said.

"There is no guarantee that you will again get a chance to become the prime minister so you should do something that country can remember you always. We request you to replace the present bill with a strict bill."

Listing out the "loopholes" in the Lokpal bill passed by the Lok Sabha in winter session last year, Hazare said: "The bill passed by the Lok Sabha is a betrayal of the trust of the nation. During my fast in August last year, I was assured by parliament of bringing a strict Lokpal bill."

"It is also a betrayal of parliament, as the sense of house was not kept in your Lokpal bill. You did not keep the supremacy of parliament," he wrote.

"The government did not let amendments moved by the opposition get passed in the Rajya Sabha. Do you really think the bill passed by the Lok Sabha is strict enough to check corruption in the country," he asked.

Arguing for the independence of CBI, Hazare asked Singh why he was afraid of loosening the government grip over the agency.

 "Does the CBI have some files which the government fears? Or is it that they want to misuse CBI to save corrupt ministers? Or is it you want to misuse CBI to ensure that the government does not fall by ensuring support of Yadav and Mayawati," he asked.

Hazare alleged that Singh's government did not listen to voices of people on Lokpal but was quick to address the concerns raised by Gandhi.

In the letter to Gandhi, Team Anna said the government did not honour the commitment of Parliament but when he demanded Constitutional status for the ombudsman it readily listened.

 "It looks like that the government listens to you only. The moment you asked, they gave it. But you don't want to give Lokpal any freedom or strength," they said.

Countering Gandhi's argument that the Lokpal bill is strong, they said, "Tell us with your hands on your heart, do you think that it is strong? Or is it that you are telling lies during election campaigning?"

Team Anna also sought to put some tough questions to Gadkari on BJP's stance on Lokpal, asking him why BJP did not move amendment in Lok Sabha seeking independence for CBI while they did so in Rajya Sabha.

The BJP chief was also asked on the contradiction in the party's stand about setting up Lokayuktas in states through Lokpal law as it favoured the proposal during special sitting in August last year but opposed it in December.

They said they were opposed to BJP position that Lokayukta cannot be set up through Lokpal Bill.

Claiming that the BJP does not appear fully supporting party-led Uttarakhand government's Lokayukta law, Team Anna sought to know from him whether they will make other BJP-ruled states to enact same kind of law if they are in agreement.

Separate letters to leaders of Congress, BJP, SP and BSP, the main contenders in the forthcoming Assembly elections in five states, is seen as a move by Hazare and his group, to battle charges of being anti-Congress and project a non-partisan face.

They were earlier seen as being reluctant in attacking BJP, SP or BSP and too strident in their stand against Congress as the ruling party has the primary responsibility to bring a strong law.

Team Anna had received flak for its anti-Congress stand during its campaign for a strong Lokpal Bill and earlier this month had decided not to target any single party during its campaign.

 However, a campaign pamphlet released last week had attacked the Congress accusing it of betraying the country on Lokpal issue even as the activists claimed that they will not seek votes for or against any single party.

 In their letter to Mayawati, Team Anna asked her whether one can be sure that her party will not walk out during voting on Lokpal Bill next time and stick to its demand for CBI's independence for CBI.

Mulayam was asked why he walked out of Lok Sabha despite opposing it in the Standing Committee.

"It is said that you will enter into a coalition with Congress after polls. Some others feel that you will join hands with BJP. We appeal to you to tell people clearly with whom you will enter into a coalition. You are from socialist line. People who vote for you is voting for you due to your socialist leanings. Do you think that Congress and BJP have socialist leanings," the letter said.

He was also asked whether he will join UPA government after elections.

 "Akhilesh Singh (his son and prominent leader) attacks Rahul Gandhi, Congress and UPA. Is it just a pretence? Is this to mislead people?" he said.

The leaders were also asked about their stand on land acquisition as well as why they were forced to give tickets to people with criminal background.

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