The Lok Satta Party president Jayaprakash Narayan on Monday said it was necessary for people to understand the crux of the Lokpal bill to be able to debate it in a healthy and conducive atmosphere.

Addressing an awareness meet in the city as part of Mr. Narayan's nine-district tour in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema to mobilise public opinion on constitution of Lokayuktas in States and ombudsmen in districts in extension to the Union Government's Lokpal bill, he said creating favourable conditions for a spirited public debate on the key issue was essential.

“There is no dispute on the fact that corruption is omni-present and it should be nipped in the bud. But, the methodology we adopt to remove this social malady is crucial. In a democratic set-up , a debate must be countered with debate, not by allegations.” He said that Parliament must exercise utmost caution while putting into effect its powers and responsibilities ensuring a balance between the two. Pointing out the Union Government could adopt the anti-corruption law applicable to the entire country since it had ratified the UN Convention against corruption, he said that if the Union Government failed to provide for creation of Lokayuktas as part of the Lokpal bill, the Lok Satta would wage a struggle for creation of a strong Lokayukta in Andhra Pradesh to begin with by mobilising public opinion.

He said that organisations like the CBI and ACB had turned pro-government and they should also be brought under the purview of the Lokpal institution.

Referring to the debate on whether the Prime Minister should be brought under the Lokpal scanner, Dr. Jayaprakash said that the public should be allowed to debate the issue and a decision could be arrived at after weighing the pros and cons of it.

“But people on higher echelons of judiciary must be kept out of the Lokpal ambit,” he said categorically, explaining: “You cannot create an institution overnight and say it is higher than or even parallel to the Supreme Court.

The sanctity of the apex court must be maintained at all costs,” he emphasised.

Representatives of political parties, non-governmental organisations and others attended the session.

While stressing the need for a strong Lokpal, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan called for establishment of Lokayuktas in all States and local ombudsmen in districts with full powers and granting of autonomy to CBI and Anti-Corruption Bureaus for eradicating corruption, which would be rendered a daunting task if the States, where most of the corruption happens, don't have their own vigilant bodies.

The Lokayuktas have to be conferred full powers to extract accountability of even Chief Ministers just like the Prime Minister is sought to be punished for wrongdoings.

Addressing a public meeting at Lakshmipuram here as part of the LSP's anti-corruption campaign on Monday, Mr. Narayan said people need not be bogged down by despair as a slew of powerful laws were enacted in the past and their urge to get the corrupt politicians, businessmen and criminals punished was as intense as it was earlier.

The statutory bodies which are fighting corruption should be devoid of political intervention and be able to take exemplary action against those making a dent in the exchequer.

The arbitrary allotment of 2G spectrum to mobile phone operators and siphoning off of funds in the conduct of Commonwealth Games 2010 were eye-openers to the Central Government and its failure to take stringent action against the culprits would only worsen the situation and incur the public wrath.

Keywords: Lokpal bill

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