Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Monday dubbed the government's draft Lokpal bill as “weak and full of loopholes” and urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to bring in Parliament the Jan Lokpal Bill proposed by civil society members.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr. Hazare renewed his threat to go on indefinite fast. He said: “We are willing to go through the parliamentary procedure. But at least your government should bring a strong and effective Lokpal Bill in Parliament or else I will have no other option but to go on indefinite fast from August 16 as I had stated when I broke my fast in April.”
Mr. Hazare charged the government with lack of political will to come out with a strong and effective Lokpal Bill. He said the government draft was a “joke” played on the nation. “None of the scams that the nation is witnessing today are covered under the government's Bill. We are today at the same place from where we started.”
Releasing the letter to the media at a press conference here, members of the civil society said there would be a referendum on the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Chandni Chowk parliamentary constituency represented by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal on July 21 “as he represents the face of the government.” In particular, voters would be asked if they wanted the Prime Minister, the higher judiciary and all government employees and not just Grade A officers to be included under the proposed Lokpal.
Mr. Hazare said the Centre and the States were pointing fingers at each other to avoid a strong institution to fight corruption. “Why is the government hesitating to make a single law to set up Lokpal and Lokayuktas [for States] when the matter is in the Concurrent List? Will people have to wait for years to get rid of corruption in the States? Where should the aam admi go with his complaints of corruption?''
Referring to reported statements by some leaders and Ministers that his protest would meet the same fate as that of yoga guru Ramdev, he said it was “not right” for anyone to talk like that as it was one's fundamental right to protest.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan said if they were denied permission for their protest in August, they would approach the Supreme Court.
Asked if he felt parliamentarians would pass a Bill conceived by the civil society, Mr. Hazare said, “Parties may oppose a strong anti-corruption law but I have faith in the people, who are supreme.”
Member of the core team Kiran Bedi said a sample survey in Mumbai showed that 95 per cent people wanted a strong anti-corruption law and wanted the higher judiciary and the Prime Minister to be covered.
Swami Agnivesh sought to question Dr. Singh's honesty, saying that he was elected to the Rajya Sabha after being shown as a resident of Assam, whereas he belonged to Punjab.
Arvind Kejriwal said the civil society members had proposed a nationwide referendum on the Jan Lokpal Bill versus the Lokpal Bill, which was rejected by the government.