New Delhi, Jul 18: Questioning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's honesty, the Anna Hazare team today raised its pitch on the Lokpal Bill demanding that its version be placed before Parliament, saying that the “weak” government draft was a “joke” played on the nation.
Hazare stood firm on his threat to go on indefinite fast from August 16 and announced that a referendum will be conducted from July 21 in Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency from where HRD Minister Kapil Sibal was elected.
The Gandhian also shot off a letter to the Prime Minister seeking to punch holes in the government's stand on the anti-corruption law and alleging that the Centre and state governments were pointing fingers at each other to avoid a strong institution to fight corruption.
Anna Hazare's Letter To PM
“The government's draft prepared by the five ministers in the joint drafting committee is a joke played on the nation. The scope of the draft is so confined that it does not address the corruption faced by common man,” Hazare said in the letter to Singh informing about his fast from August 16.
Referring to reported statements by some leaders and ministers that his protest will meet the same fate as that of yoga guru Ramdev, he told reporters it was “not right” for anyone to talk like that as it is one's fundamental right to protest.
Swami Agnivesh, a core member of the Hazare team, sought to question Singh's honesty, saying that he was elected to the Rajya Sabha after being shown as a resident of Assam after renting a room in the house of former Chief Minister Hiteshwar Saikia.
“You (Singh) got elected from Assam saying you are a resident of the state. You are not from Assam. You are from Punjab. Prime Minister talks about honesty. What is this, honesty?” Agnivesh said, adding that he has to listen to the voice of the people of Assam on the Lokpal issue.
Demanding that their version of the bill, the Jan Lokpal Bill, be brought in Parliament for discussion, Hazare said, “We want our version to be introduced in Parliament. If you send a weak bill, what will you discuss?”
Opposing the contention that the Lokpal will look into corruption at higher-level, he alleged that the government draft leaves out everything that matters to the common man and that none of the big scams come under the ambit of the anti-corruption ombudsman.
“Even the scams which came to light in the recent times do not come under the ambit of Lokpal. Whether it is Adarsh scam, Commonwealth Games scam, food grain scam, Reddy Brothers scam, Taj Corridor scam, JMM case, cash-for-vote, fodder scam, Karnataka land scam—none of these will come under the ambit of Lokpal,” Hazare claimed in the letter.
It raises a “big” question, he claimed, that who will come under the ambit of Lokpal and the government was now trying to set up a new institution which has no powers as it did in the past.
He also questioned the government's rationale in sending letters to Chief Ministers seeking their views on setting up Lokayukta in states, saying that the issue is under concurrent list and there was no need for such correspondence.
“Did they write letters to Chief Ministers for the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments (related to Panchayati Raj and urban local bodies)? This time such a letter was written with a purpose,” he said.
In his letter, Hazare said, “You are putting the ball in Chief Ministers' court and the Chief Ministers (are) hitting the ball back to you. Both parties are shifting their responsibilities on to each others' shoulders,” he said.
Contesting the government's claim that it could not bring all the employees under the Lokpal, he asked whether the government intended to allow them to indulge in corruption. PTI