Calling the government's Lokpal Bill “weak and incompetent to handle corruption in the country,” anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare said on Thursday that such a Bill should not be passed by Parliament.
He stated that if Parliament failed to pass a stronger Bill in favour of the people, he would take the struggle to the ‘people's parliament' and go ahead with his agitation from December 27. He was addressing journalists in his hometown Ralegan Siddhi after watching the day's parliamentary proceedings on television.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Hazare dared Congress president Sonia Gandhi to have a public debate on the Bill. “Sonia Gandhi says the Bill is strong. If it is so, let her come out and debate with us in front of the media. Let people see it. Let us have a face to face debate.”
He disapproved of the Bill for failing to give the Lokpal powers to punish the corrupt. “Unless and until the corrupt are sent to jail, corruption will not end. There should be fear in the minds of people while committing the offence.”
Mr. Hazare was also against bringing the lower bureaucracy (Class C and D) under the purview of the Central Vigilance Commission and not the Lokpal, stating that this would mean an increased government involvement. He also attacked the government for making the CBI an independent body under the Lokpal.
“Such a weak Bill should not be passed by Parliament. If such an incompetent Bill is passed by the Centre, it will affect the States' Lokayukta Bill, which will be emulated from the Lokpal Bill,” Mr. Hazare said, asserting that corruption in the country would not be reduced by such feeble attempts.
Asked if having no quota for minorities in the Lokpal panel was acceptable to him, he said he would like to leave the issue to be sorted by Parliament. “I have faith in Parliament. We will see what they do,” he said.
Chalking out the future course of action, Mr. Hazare said that after his three-day fast from December 27, and the jail bharo andolan, he would tour the country and tell people not to vote for people who had opposed the Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament.