‘Wrong to demand that only Jan Lokpal Bill be passed in Parliament'
Even as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has extended support to Anna Hazare in his agitation against corruption, State Law Minister Dillip Sanghani differed on the methodology adopted to get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed by Parliament.
“Mobocracy cannot be a substitute for democracy at any time,” Mr. Sanghani said here on Tuesday. He said that while he welcomed Mr. Hazare's fight against corruption, he believed it was wrong to demand in Parliament that only his “Jan Lokpal Bill” must be passed.
He said the Constitution had given Parliament and its members the powers to frame Bills and adopt them in the manner it thought best. “By sending mobs and gheraoing members, one cannot demand that a particular Bill must be passed by Parliament in a given form,” he said.
According to Mr. Sanghani, such a method was constitutionally wrong and a threat to the democratic structure of the country. “The MPs cannot be bribed, allured or pressured in any manner to get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed. This is not democracy… this is an interference with the functioning of the Lok Sabha. Everyone must allow the MPs to act freely in adopting a Bill.”
Mr. Sanghani's was the first dissenting voice from the non-Congress camp in Gujarat, particularly after Mr. Modi supported Mr. Hazare's agitation. But while Mr. Modi was silent on Mr. Hazare's call to his supporters to “gherao” the MPs to pressure them to get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed, the MPs from the State belonging to the BJP were more than eager to stay on the right side of the demonstrators.
At least four BJP MPs — party veteran Harin Pathak, Vadodara mayor and Lok Sabha member Balkrishna Shukla, the former State BJP president and MP from Bhavnagar, Rajendrasinh Rana, and Kirit Solanki — have already submitted in writing that they will support the Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament.
The Hazare-supporters continued their programme of dharna and agitation in front of the residences of MPs from the State. On Tuesday, they organised a day-long dharna in front of the residence of Union Minister of State Tushar Chaudhary at Vyara in south Gujarat. Mr. Chaudhary was not at home.
‘Sign in blood' campaign
In Ahmedabad, students launched a campaign to “sign in blood” a pro-Anna memorandum to be send to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after five days. In Vadodara, State Bank of India employees took out a rally in Anna's support and offered to contribute a day's wages to fund the on-going agitation. Diamond cutters took out a rally at Navsari, while doctors and other medical professionals marched on the streets of Junagadh in support of the agitation.
Meanwhile, Ranchhodbhai Desai, a 112-year-old Army veteran who has fought the 1965 war against Pakistan, said he was keen to join the activist in his fast on the Ramlila grounds, but his family members did not permit him because of his falling heath. He observed a day's token fast to express his solidarity with the “great cause” taken up by Mr. Hazare.