Bangalore, Jun 19 : Denying any split in Anna Hazare camp, Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, a member of Lok Pal bill drafting committee, today said he will attend the panel's next meeting and backed Anna Hazare's planned fast in August after opposing it.
After his comments on Hazare fast and inability to take part in the meeting in Delhi fuelled speculation of differences among civil society representatives, Hegde said he will be present on June 21 to show there is ‘no rift'.
Hegde said he would support Hazare's plans to resume fast from August 16 if a strong anti-corruption bill was not prepared to show there is “no split”. Yesterday, he said he did not favour the social activist's move and that he should instead tour the country and mobilise support.
Hegde also said keeping the Prime Minister out of anti-corruption watchdog Lokpal till he demits office will not serve the purpose of having an effective investigation because there will not be any trails of any misconduct. A proposal in this regard was made by HRD Minister Kapil Sibal yesterday.
The former Supreme Court judge had yesterday said in a letter to Hazare that he would not be able to attend the June 20 and 21 meetings of the committee.
“...That is exactly the reason why I am coming to Delhi to attend the meeting and show that there is no rift, we are all together,” he said. He however said he will not be present tomorrow owing to prior commitments.
On the issue of him not favouring Hazare to undertake fast again, Hegde said, “It was a suggestion (on the fast issue) I had made because I personally felt that it would be better if Anna goes around India and mobilises support against corruption but that is being taken as if there is a split between us. If Anna Hazare goes on a strike, I will fully support him.”
Hegde had said yesterday, “Annaji must continue his fight against corruption, personally. He must not go on any hunger strike immediately. He must go around the country and inform people about the consequences of corruption and on development.”
Hazare early this week threatened to go on fast again from August 16 if a strong Lokpal Bill was not prepared.
Hegde had also said he would not go to the fasting place or take to the streets as he continued to occupy the post of Lokayukta in Karnataka till August 2. “I will participate in the movement after I demit office,” he said.
He flayed the government's stand to keep the Prime Minister out of the purview of Lokpal till he demits office, pointing to the possibilities of evidences being destroyed and also wriggling out by citing “error of judgement” in such cases.
“That (keeping PM out of Lokpal) will not serve the purpose of having an effective investigation because there will not be any trails of the misconduct,” Hegde told PTI.
If Lokpal were to conduct investigation after prime minister demitted office, there are possibilities of evidences being “swept clean” before that and there could be arguments that it was “error of judgement” (on the part of PM) and it is not a case of corruption, he said.
Hegde was responding to questions on the government making clear its opposition to bringing the post of prime minister within the ambit of Lokpal till he demitted office.
“Within the government, we feel prima facie, the prime minister should not be covered (under the Lokpal). But at the same time we want to make sure that if he demits office, he should not be exonerated from prosecution,” Sibal, who is part of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal, had said yesterday.
“Prime Minister was never out of it (Lokpal). Constitution never contemplated prime minister to be out of it,” Hegde said, adding that the Constitution never contemplated anybody in the country, except the President, out of the purview of the Prevention of Corruption Act. PTI