House panel cornered Team Anna, says member

Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Law and Justice who had a “very frank, intense and productive” discussion with Anna Hazare on the Lokpal Bill are amazed that he after, giving them an impression of being “satisfied” with the interaction, said “something else” to the media.

The meeting ended with the Committee asking Team Anna to send its Jan Lokpal Bill to it for further discussion so that the Bill could be circulated to all members.

The “frank” discussions apparently included some sharp questioning of the Team, and the panel members got the impression that the Hazare delegation had not laid its cards on the table. “ Andar meeting mein kuch kaha aur bahar kuch aur hi (inside the meeting he said something and outside something quite different),” said a non-UPA member of the Committee. He did not want to be identified as proceedings of the Committee are confidential.

It was on August 9 that a “reference” was made to social activist Anna Hazare by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, inviting him the next day to place his views before the Committee, which is holding consultations on the Lokpal Bill.

Chairman Abhishek Singhvi said the Committee then received a request from Mr. Hazare that he, along with his associates, would like to appear before it. “We agreed and Team Anna, including Mr. Hazare himself, Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan and Kiran Bedi, appeared before the Committee on August 10,” he told The Hindu.

Other members of the Committee told The Hindu that to this day copies of Team Anna's Bill had not been received.

One member said the Committee put many piercing questions to Mr. Hazare's delegation: “There are 120 crore people in the country, on what basis can Team Anna claim that its Bill has the support of the people of India? Several MPs have been sent to jail for various crimes, MPs have lost membership of Parliament because of corruption [cash for questions and the MPLADS case] and inquiries are on; there are former Ministers in jail and the system is working, even if slowly. What will the Jan Lokpal Bill achieve?”

It was also pointed out to the delegation that the country had seen several “people's movements” and they lost steam within a year or two. “Can an agitation be started with the support of thousands saying religious minorities should be denied citizenship in India and the majority community wants this? There is a Constitution and it must be respected.”

The member told The Hindu: “The team was cornered by our questions. They had no answers. They were also asked how a Lokpal under their Bill can be prosecutor and judge.” Finally, “the MPs also told them not to start with the assumption that only they and their supporters are honest and the rest of us [MPs and politicians] are all crooks.”

This was after Team Anna indicated that it could drop the demand for bringing the Prime Minister within the ambit of Lokpal, but wanted all non-governmental organisations excluded. A Committee member said: “If their house is so squeaky clean, why do they want to keep NGOs out of the Lokpal's purview?”

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 12:45:47 AM |

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