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After Rahul's push for Lokpal, Hazare hails draft bill

December 14, 2013 19:03 IST

Anna Hazare, fasting for the last five days for passage of Lokpal Bill, on Saturday said he was happy with the amended legislation presented in the Rajya Sabha and would call off his hunger strike the moment the law is enacted.

"I will call off my fast as soon as the bill is passed by the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha endorses it and the President signs it into a law," Hazare told reporters, shortly after Rahul Gandhi made a strong pitch for passing the bill, describing it as a "very, very powerful instrument" in the fight against corruption.

Hazare said several of his expectations from the legislation have been met and expressed satisfaction over the bill which was presented in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

"I am satisfied with whatever I have seen of the draft bill and so I welcome it," he said.

The Gandhian, who is observing his fourth fast for anti-corruption ombudsman, said some issues he wanted to be incorporated into the bill might have been left out but he was not disappointed.

"If I try to impose my view on Parliament, it will be wrong. Parliament has its own place of prominence, it doesn't matter if 2-3 things have been left out," he said.

Hazare expressed satisfaction over the selection process of the Lokpal which would be appointed by a collegium that would include an eminent jurist selected through consensus by its other four members -- the prime minister, the Lok Sabha Speaker, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.

He said bringing the prime minister within the purview of the Lokpal and both the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Central Vigilance Committee under its control were good steps.

"We had been insisting for a long time on freeing the Central Investigation Bureaufrom government control", he said.

Hazare said the draft bill also recommends setting up of Lokayuktas in states. "This is good. If state governments don't set up Lokayukta now, the people would take to streets," he said

He also described as a welcome step vesting the power with the Lokpal to seize the properties of those accused of corruption and to transfer officers during the course of investigation.

"The deadline of three months to the CBI for completing a preliminary inquiry, six months for a detailed probe and settling the cases within a year is a welcome step, too," he said, adding bringing NGOs receiving funds from abroad under the Lokpal was also a good move.

"Three issues for which we had campaigned in the past – the Citizen's Charter, steps for protection of whistleblowers and another one relating to the judiciary are also being addressed through separate bills in Parliament," he said.

Asked if he considered the introduction of the bill in the Rajya Sabha and inclusion of various suggestions made by him a victory, the Gandhian quipped" what is victory for a poor man sitting in a temple?

Hazare is fasting outside YadavbabaTemple at his village since November 10. "Time has came to move (ahead) with the present draft of Lokpal Bill and get it passed.

Improvements can be made later through amendments once it becomes a Constitutional reality," Hazare told PTI earlier in the day. The first indication of softening of Team Anna's stand on the bill had come yesterday when former Army Chief General V K Singh had said "if a person is naked, he should at least get undergarments, a three-piece suit can follow."

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