Mumbai, June 24: Taking strong exception to Bal Thackeray's allegation that that his anti-corruption agitation was funded by corporates, Gandhian Anna Hazare on Friday challenged the Shiv Sena supremo to name just one such corporate.
"Why do I need corporates? And if there is one, name it, that this corporate helped you. (If that is the case), I will become your slave for life. But stop making hollow claims. It is not alright to accuse and defame someone," he added Replying to criticism that he was seeking to create a ‘parallel government' through a Jan Lokpal bill without accountability, flouting the basic structure of the constitution, Hazare said all parties should decide if that was the case.
"We have decided to approach leaders of all political parties and show them the government's draft and our draft. We will ask them to study the two drafts and let us know if they find anything that is against Constitution in our draft. We would like to know if our draft is an attempt at forming a parallel government," Hazare told PTI over phone.
The Gandhian said civil society members would ask the leader of all parties their views on the drafts and how to go about eradicating corruption in our society. "We will meet them and tell them to decide after reading our draft, so that no one says later that they were not shown the draft."
Today's meeting of Lokpal bill drafting committee member Arvind Kejriwal and former top cop Kiran Bedi with senior BJP leader L K Advani was a part of this process, he said. Asked about Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh's reported ‘warning' to him not to fast again else he may get the "same treatment" as Baba Ramdev, Hazare said "If the party is endangered, people (like Digvijay Singh) are bound to speak".
"They are bound to make attempts to checkmate the agitation and ensure that people do not participate," he said. "We will make our efforts, they will make their efforts (to foil the agitation). Why should I worry about that" "Civil society members, including myself, will meet chiefs and leaders of various parties and will also tour some states. I am at my village for a couple of days in connection with court work," Hazare said.
Asked if he was open to discussions on stumbling blocks in the draft, Hazare said "I have often said that issues could be resolved through discussions. I told this to those in the government. That you sit with us, be ready for discussions". "Some people say that we are going outside the purview of the Constitution, looking at our draft. I want to tell them that we are not acting against the spirit of the Constitution," Hazare said.
"We are demanding that the same level of autonomy given to the Election Commission and Information Commissioner be given to Lokpal, who should be given powers of inquiry. What stops you from empowering Lokpal with powers of investigation," he said.
Hazare's remarks came after Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said the Gandhian leader was seeking to create a ‘parallel government' through a Jan Lokpal bill without accountability, flouting the basic structure of the Constitution.
"Anna asks for prosecution powers sans accountability for the Lokpal, which means he wants a parallel government. Did our framers of the Constitution ever think of such a situation arising now?" Sibal had said.
In a statement issued from his village Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district, Hazare accused the government of lacking the will to check corruption.
“One cannot say that the government is not aware that not even 10 paise of every rupee spent on development work is not used on the actual work. However, we have realised that it is not the government's desire to have a corruption-free India,” he said.
Almost 75 per cent of the money that comes into the government coffers is spent on establishment cost, including staff salaries, vehicles and housing, he said. There is corruption in the remaining 25 per cent, he added. Corruption is a ‘maharog' (disease) that has afflicted the country and has made life unbearable for the common man, he said. In many cases, action is not taken against cases of corruption as there is a whole ‘chain of corruption' which reaches the top, he said.
There is no consensus on empowering Lokpal with investigative powers as some bureaucrats and people's representatives, fear that there would be no scope for corruption if this provision is included in the draft, Hazare said.
“The real question is whether India will ever be corruption-free,” Hazare said. He asked supporters to actively participate in his agitation starting from August 16. PTI