Even as the political parties failed to arrive at a consensus on the Lokpal Bill at a meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Friday, social activist Anna Hazare urged the government to withdraw, what he said “was a useless Bill that was too weak to effectively tackle corruption.”
Indicating his intention to launch a bigger anti-corruption agitation than last year if the government did not bring in a strong Lokpal Bill, Mr. Hazare said: “Today, there was an all-party meeting, but no decision was taken because of the failure of the parties to arrive at a consensus. Now, we think whether the government brings Jan Lokpal [formulated by India Against Corruption] or not, we will go to the people's Parliament.''
Charging the government with “betrayal,” Mr. Hazare said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had gone back on several assurances. He added that the proper thing would have been to discuss all versions of the Bill, including a comprehensive and effective Jan Lokpal in the all-party meeting.
Pointing out that at least 25 honest citizens had been killed recently for exposing incidents of corruption, Mr. Hazare said that had the government included strong provisions for giving protection to whistle-blowers in the Bill, these deaths could have been averted. “But the government is not sensitive.”
Alleging that the government did not have any intention of bringing a strong Lokpal, the septuagenarian activist said he would tour the country to awaken the people on the issue.
“We will launch a bigger movement than the one at Ramlila Ground and the government will see the results in 2014 [Lok Sabha elections],” he said, adding that the demand was not personal but for the betterment of the country.
On March 25, Mr. Hazare will go on a one-day fast at Jantar Mantar here to highlight the importance of a strong and effective Whistle-blowers Act, referring to the separate Act the UPA is coming up with, as weak and ineffective.
He will be joined by families of at least 25 whistle-blowers who had lost their lives for exposing corruption.