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Anna's August 16 fast is unjustified: Chidambaram

Last updated on: August 12, 2011 17:27 IST

Anna's August 16 fast is unjustified: Chidambaram

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday said activist Anna Hazare's plan to go on fast from August 16 on Lokpal issue is "unjustified" at this stage, when it is moving forward on the passage of the bill.

"I can understand his protest for the first time. Now that the standing committee has invited him to give his views on the Lokpal bill in its very first meeting. Hence, there is no justification for him to protest of the second time," Chidambaram told media persons at a press conference at Shastri Bhavan.

Noting that "everybody has a right to protest and the context and circumstances will decide whether the protest was right or not", Chidamabram said Hazare team's earlier fast, when the Lokpal bill was not in place, was perhaps right but not now when a bill has already been introduced in Parliament and the government has "moved forward" on it.

Addressing a press briefing of the Group of Ministers on Media, the Union Minister said that the government's draft Lokpal bill will receive many suggestions in the Standing Committee as well as in Parliament from the opposition parties and some of these may also be accommodated.

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To another question on whether the government can intervene in case Hazare's health is affected, the Home Minister said, "Certainly, if anyone's life is in danger, the government has not only a duty but a right to intervene."       

He was, however quick to add that the statement was not in context of Hazare but a general one.

To queries about the delay in permission to Hazare to hold fast and how the government intends to tackle the stir, the Home Minister said that the matter rests with Delhi Police Commissioner and the government was "not tackling or pushing any one".

"I think we are jumping the gun. He wants to have a protest fast and has applied for permission before the Delhi Police. The application is under process. Police Commissioner has to decide. See what he decides," he said.



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Asked about Team Anna's claims of 90 per cent support in Rahul Gandhi's constituency Amethi for Jan Lokpal bill, the Home Minister said that he can only repeat what Union Minister Kapil Sibal had earlier said that "we are surprised it is not 100 per cent".

The Home Minister said people of the country are "reasonably satisfied" with the government moving forward on the Lokpal bill.

Asked whether the ministers can claim to have gauged the mood of the voters in their constituencies on the Lokpal issue especially in the backdrop of Team Anna's surveys in Amethi and Chandani Chowk showing people's support for Jan Lokpal bill, Chidambaram said that there are no such methods before MPs to conduct any referendum.

There is also no legal mechanism for it but the interactions with party workers and voters give an indication that people are satisfied with the government's initiative on the issue, he said.



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