AAP leader Kejriwal dismisses it as "jokepal"

Even as anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare praised the amended draft Lokpal bill presented in the Rajya Sabha, his one time protege Arvind Kejriwal dismissed it as a “jokepal.” Their sharply differing stand reflected yet again a widening rift between the two.

Addressing a press conference in Ralegan Siddhi on Saturday, Mr. Hazare said, “I accept it completely. If this Bill is passed, I will end my fast. The Bill will help the poor people of this country.” The activist has been fasting for the last five days demanding that the Lokpal Bill be passed.

Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party leader Mr. Kejriwal tweeted his opposition to the Bill and Mr. Hazare's acceptance. “I'm really surprised. How can Anna accept sarkari Lokpal Bill? Sarkari Lokpal is a “jokepal”. Who is misguiding him? Whatever he may say, we will continue our fight for Jan Lokpal Bill till our last breath,” he tweeted.

Earlier, when asked how he would respond if Mr. Kejriwal opposed the Bill, Mr Hazare gave a rather caustic reply. “My work is done. If some people are not satisfied, they should start their own agitation.”

Asked whether he would thank Mr. Kejriwal for his contribution to the movement, Mr. Hazare said, “There is till time for that. Many people were in this movement from the beginning. Arvind and I started the movement together. I thank him. Anybody can take credit for this. I do not need anything.”

“The Congress woke up very late. Their image would have improved had they acted on it earlier,” He thanked both the Congress and the BJP for the Bill. “It is a victory for the people,” he said.

Echoing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's appeal to all the parties, Mr. Hazare requested the Samajwadi Party to extend support to the Bill. “I am confident that all the parties will support it, and it will be passed,” he said.

When asked by The Hindu whether the passing of the Bill would impact the Congress’s chances in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he said, “I cannot predict the future. Voters have the key.”

Mr. Hazare said “the most important aspect of the draft Bill is that it removes all government control on the Lokpal and prevents any interference. The CBI is now answerable to the Lokpal. The government will not interfere. Class 1,2,3 and 4 officials have been brought under the Lokpal.”

While accepting that the draft Bill reserved some issues from his Jan Lokapl Bill for separate legislation he said, “If I insist that they accepted my Bill 100 per cent, it will send a wrong message. This Bill is for the benefit of the people.”

Mr. Hazare acknowledged that the Lokpal Bill alone would not curb corruption completely. “Corruption will not come down 100 per cent, it will be reduced by 50-60 percent. Other Bills, like the right to reject and right to recall, are equally important. We will keep fighting for them.”

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