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How honest have you been Mr PM, asks Anna

Last updated on: July 19, 2011 03:53 IST

How honest have you been Mr PM, asks Anna

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Questioning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's honesty, the Anna Hazare team has raised its pitch on the Lokpal Bill demanding that its version be placed before Parliament, saying that the "weak" government draft was a "joke" played on the nation.

Hazare stood firm on his threat to go on indefinite fast from August 16 and announced that a referendum will be conducted from July 21 in Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency from where HRD Minister Kapil Sibal was elected.

The Gandhian also shot off a letter to the Prime Minister on Monday seeking to punch holes in the government's stand on the anti-corruption law and alleging that the Centre and state governments were pointing fingers at each other to avoid a strong institution to fight corruption.

"The government's draft prepared by the five ministers in the joint drafting committee is a joke played on the nation. The scope of the draft is so confined that it does not address the corruption faced by common man," Hazare said in the letter to Singh informing about his fast from August 16.

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Referring to reported statements by some leaders and ministers that his protest will meet the same fate as that of yoga guru Ramdev, he told reporters it was "not right" for anyone to talk like that as it is one's fundamental right to protest.

Swami Agnivesh, a core member of the Hazare team, sought to question Singh's honesty, saying that he was elected to the Rajya Sabha after being shown as a resident of Assam after renting a room in the house of former Chief Minister Hiteshwar Saikia.

"You (Singh) got elected from Assam saying you are a resident of the state. You are not from Assam. You are from Punjab. Prime Minister talks about honesty. What is this, honesty?" Agnivesh said, adding that he has to listen to the voice of the people of Assam on the Lokpal issue.

Demanding that their version of the bill, the Jan Lokpal Bill, be brought in Parliament for discussion, Hazare said, "We want our version to be introduced in Parliament. If you send a weak bill, what will you discuss?"



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Opposing the contention that the Lokpal will look into corruption at higher-level, he alleged that the government draft leaves out everything that matters to the common man and that none of the big scams come under the ambit of the anti-corruption ombudsman.

"Even the scams which came to light in the recent times do not come under the ambit of Lokpal. Whether it is Adarsh scam, Commonwealth Games scam, food grain scam, Reddy Brothers scam, Taj Corridor scam, JMM case, cash-for-vote, fodder scam, Karnataka land scam -- none of these will come under the ambit of Lokpal," Hazare claimed in the letter.

It raises a "big" question, he claimed, that who will come under the ambit of Lokpal and the government was now trying to set up a new institution which has no powers as it did in the past.

He also questioned the government's rationale in sending letters to Chief Ministers seeking their views on setting up Lokayukta in states, saying that the issue is under concurrent list and there was no need for such correspondence.



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"Did they write letters to Chief Ministers for the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments (related to Panchayati Raj and urban local bodies)? This time such a letter was written with a purpose," he said.

In his letter, Hazare said, "You are putting the ball in Chief Ministers' court and the Chief Ministers (are) hitting the ball back to you. Both parties are shifting their responsibilities on to each others' shoulders," he said.

Contesting the government's claim that it could not bring all the employees under the Lokpal, he asked whether the government intended to allow them to indulge in corruption.

Contending that corruption is as big a crime as rape or murder, Hazare said, "Where will the common man go to file a case of corruption? Is it not your government's duty to provide relief to a citizen?

"It is unfortunate that after 62 years of independence the government cannot provide relief to common man who is troubled by corruption. Corruption has become part and parcel of government. If cases of murder and rape increase like that of corruption, will this be your response?" he said.



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Asked whether he would receive support similar to what he got during his April 5 fast following which a joint Lokpal Bill drafting committee was set up, Hazare appeared confident and said people want a strong set up to fight corruption.

"When people are awaken, then the government will have to listen to their voices. They will have to bring a strong Lokpal Bill," he said.

On the question of inclusion of judiciary in the ambit of the ombudsman, Hazare sought to clarify their stand saying that the Lokpal is not meant to punish judges but just investigate corruption charges against them.



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"It's just an investigation and Lokpal will file a report to Supreme Court which will take a decision on it. What is the problem in it? How is the Lokpal going to transcend law?" Hazare said.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan said it was a "false belief" that Lokpal will be above Supreme Court if it investigates cases against judges. "Is the police or the CBI which will investigate cases against judges above the courts?" he said.

Bhushan said they had approached Delhi Police seeking permission for the indefinite fast but "curiously" the force had asked them to first get permission from New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC).

"We are in talks with the police. We will also seek the permission of NDMC as they demanded. But this is against a fundamental right to protest against government. This move is against Constitution. If they deny us permission, then we will approach Supreme Court," he said.



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