Lokpal report is like an empty can: Anna
Activist Anna Hazare on Saturday blamed Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi for encouraging Abhishek Manu Singhvi, chairman of the Standing Committee of Law and Justice, Public Grievances and Personnel, for overlooking the letter written by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the panel about the Lokpal BIll.
In the letter, Dr Singh had promised the Gandhian that the Lokpal Bill will be a strong one and it will also deal with some key issues like Citizen's Charter and bringing junior government employees under the purview of the Lokpal.
To protest the report of the Standing Committee on Lokpal Bill, which was tabled in Parliament on Friday, Hazare will hold a one-day fast at Jantar Mantar on Sunday.
Reportage: Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Image: A file photo of Anna Hazare during his earlier fast at Ramlila Maidan
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
'Rahul Gandhi is behind the report'
"I have a strong suspicion that Rahul Gandhi is behind the report. Otherwise, how can the chairman of the Standing Committee ignore a letter written by the prime minister to me? I feel that Singhvi is actually trying to please one man and that is Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as the future prime minister by some," Hazare said in response to a query at a press conference in Delhi on Saturday.
When asked why he has not blamed Congress president Sonia Gandhi for the watered down version of the Lokpal Bill, Hazare said, "She has not been keeping well and it would not be proper to drag her name in this."
Anna and his team have rejected the report by the Standing Committee, claiming the Lokpal has been divested of investigation powers and has been reduced to the status of a "post office".
Image: Rahul Gandhi
'They are cheating the people of India'
"The bill is like an empty can and they (the government) are cheating the people of India," he said.
"The committee had thirty members. Two never attended the meeting. Out of 28 members, 17 have given a dissenting note. The final report was drafted by only 11 members. The ruling alliance has broken the trust. We want the Lokpal Bill to be passed during the present session. The duration of the session should be extended by the number of days lost because of disruption in Parliament," said Hazare.
He added, "If they fail to do so, then I will go on a fast again from December 27. We have invited all political parties to join us and express their point of view at Jantar Mantar on Sunday. The Congress has declined the invitation. This clearly indicates that they are not interested in having a one-to-one chat. The bill prepared earlier by the government was far stronger than the one approved by the Standing Committee. I have faith in the members of Parliament and I am confident that when the bill is introduced in Parliament, the members will support us."
Hazare urged the youth of the country to join the movement and observe a one-day fast on Sunday to voice their rejection of the bill prepared by the Standing Committee.
Image: A file photo of Anna Hazare at Rajghat
'The people will teach you a lesson'
"We will continue to fight for the next two years. We will travel across the whole country before the general elections to create public awareness," he said, adding, "Why to retain those who have destroyed the country?"
Continuing his attack on Rahul, the 74-year-old Hazare said, "He is young. He could become the prime minister. But if he becomes prime minister with these kind of thoughts, then it will be dangerous for the country."
Asked why he was only targeting the Congress, he said as the main party in the ruling coalition, it was the Congress' sresponsibility to bring in a strong and effective Lokpal.
Expressing his anger over the government's handling of the Lokpal issue since his first agitation in April, Hazare questioned whether the country had democracy or dictatorship.
"Are you running the government for the people or yourself? The people will teach you a lesson," he said.
With additional inputs from PTI
Image: Supporters of Anna Hazare
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com