Hazare: Pass law this session, even amid din

In a widening rift, the two leading figures in the anti-corruption movement expressed divergent views on the Lokpal Bill on Sunday. While fasting activist Anna Hazare said most of his demands had been met, his estranged colleague and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal asserted that it was a “compromised Bill,” which, in its present form, would not send even a mouse to jail.

The Bill, which provides for setting up a Lokpal, independent of the government, to investigate corruption charges against public functionaries, comes up for passage and discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

“Kejriwal should read the Bill,” said the retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi, who was with Mr. Hazare at Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra. In the capital, the AAP leader said Mr. Hazare was being misguided.

Mr. Hazare urged the government to get the Bill passed this session itself, even amid din. “I welcome the government’s Lokpal Bill. If the Aam Aadmi Party wants the Jan Lokpal Bill, it should go on a fresh agitation,” he said.Asked why the AAP did not accept the government Bill which could be modified later, Mr. Kejriwal shot back: “Is corruption done in instalments that we should accept the Bill in instalments? Is the government doing us a favour by bringing in the Lokpal Bill? To have a strong and effective Lokpal is the demand of the people.”

Rejecting the “compromised” Bill, he said the net result of passing it when the Lok Sabha elections were round the corner “is that the Congress will benefit and Rahul Gandhi will get some credit.”

He said he was not sure why Mr. Hazare had agreed to the government Bill. “He is being misled. We are concerned about Anna’s health. We want him to call off his fast.”

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