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'How can Anna claim to be the voice of the people?'

Last updated on: September 1, 2011 17:01 IST

'How can Anna claim to be the voice of the people?'

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Firing a salvo at Anna Hazare, former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor has said how can a person "who never stood for elections" claim to be the voice of the people.

Asserting that laws can be made only by Parliament, Tharoor, who is a first time member of Parliament from Kerala, said, "We cannot have a small group of unelected people imposing their will on Parliament because in the long term the danger will be to you the people."

"I do not believe that we can conduct democracy either from Ramlila Ground or from a television studio. Democracy must be conducted through both Houses of Parliament."

The Congress MP said there are more than 500 MPs and thousands of people's representatives in state assemblies who have gone out to seek votes of people and have to preserve the support they have got.

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Image: Union Minister Shashi Tharoor

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'Hazare's arrest was a mistake'

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"If such people cannot claim to represent the people of India, but somebody else, who never stood for elections but has lot of television cameras around him and a few thousand people in a Maidan.... Will he be the voice of the people? Is that democracy?" he said addressing a gathering at Jawaharlal Nehru University on Wednesday night.

While stating that arresting Hazare was a "mistake" and that no government can disagree with the cause of the Gandhian, Tharoor stressed that the "question is the means".

"Saying that I will starve to death thereby potentially unleashing disruption violence and anarchy in the country unless you pass a Bill which says exactly what I see it should say. Is that democracy? That is the question we have to ask," Tharoor said during a question-answer session with students.

Noting that the country has a constitutional system that has kept it together for 64 years and in which people can tell their representatives about the issues, Tharoor said, "If these representatives do not pass the laws you want or pass the law you do not want, vote them out an get other representatives."

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Image: Social activist Anna Hazare seen in a car after being detained by the New Delhi police
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
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'How will Lokpal be any different from other agencies?'

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At the outset, he said that nobody can be opposed to one's right to protest or fast or the idea of Lokpal for which Hazare stood.

"I think it was a mistake to arrest Anna Hazare," he said. The lawmaker, however, wondered what is the guarantee that Lokpal will 'magically' be something different from other agencies, which were created to fight corruption.

He at the same time made it clear he admired Hazare, who has "lot of good qualities" and an "exemplary record of service to the country".

"I am certainly not one of those to suggest that he is anything but a man of great integrity," Tharoor said.

Image: Hazare supporters at Ramlila Maidan
Photographs: Reuters
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