Ralegan Siddhi/New Delhi: Putting the government on notice on Lokpal issue, Anna Hazare on Tuesday threatened to go on an indefinite fast in Delhi from December 27 while terming that the draft report by Parliamentary Standing Committee as a "betrayal" of countrymen. Hazare said he did want the government to "make a fool of us" on the issue. Hazare also announced that he will sit on a one-day fast in Delhi's Jantar Mantar on December 11. (Agencies)
In a bid pressurise Congress, the activist also sought to corner the ruling party saying he will tour the five poll- bound states and tell electorate how the government was betraying them on the Lokpal Bill.
The 74-year-old activist said his indefinite fast will be at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi from December 27 if a strong bill was not passed during the Winter session of Parliament. If it happens, it will be his third indefinite fast this year on the Lokpal issue.
"The government has assured us that there will be a strong Lokpal bill. We were given an assurance by the Parliament. Now the Standing Committee report is out. When I saw the report, I realised that they have again betrayed the countrymen again. Government has committed deceit," he said.
"What is strong about this Lokpal Bill? How is it powerfull?" he told reporters here.
Hazare also sought to attack Manmohan Singh saying that despite the Prime Minister giving it in writing, the Standing Committee did not adhere to the assurances of Parliament.
Hazare wondered why NGOs and media were brought under the ambit of Lokpal. "On one hand, you are including media and NGOs but on the other hand, you do not want the Prime Minister and MPs. This is not fair," he said.
Prominent Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi also joined the chorus against the draft report, questioning the exclusion of judiciary from the ambit of the ombudsman while opposing inclusion of NGOs and media in it.
"Why is the Prime Minister afraid of submitting himself to the Lokpal? If you are clean, then there is no need to be scared," he said.
Hazare noted that Parliament has passed a resolution saying that lower bureacracy will be included under the ambit of Lokpal besides providing for Citizen's Charter and setting up Lokayuktas in states.
"Now the Standing Committee says no even after the Prime Minister gives it in writing. What is this government all about? Now there is a change. There is a betrayal...We don't want the government to make a fool of us," he said adding the draft recommendations do not help in tackling corruption.
Hazare took exception to the exclusion of lower bureaucracy, judiciary and CBI under the ambit of Lokpal.
On the issue of lower bureaucracy, Hazare said if they are not included in the law, poor people will suffer. "We were demanding that every section, from top to bottom, under Lokpal. Poor people cannot get their work done without paying bribe," he said.
He said it was very necessary that the anti-corruption wing of CBI be under Lokpal to ensure that there is no interference from the government in its functioning. "One of the reason for corruption is government interference."
Reacting to the panel's draft report, Kejriwal sought to remind the government of the Parliamentary resolution that led to Anna Hazare ending his fast on August 28, saying he hoped it would be respected.
"When Anna ended his fast, Parliament agreed to a resolution that stated clearly on lower bureaucracy and Citizen's Charter. We just hope that resolution is respected," he said.
Opposing the decision to exclude judiciary from the ambit of Lokpal, Kejriwal said, "We were told that the corruption by judges will be handled in the Judicial Accountability Bill (JAB). It is not in the JAB. It is not in the Lokpal bill."
Bedi called the exclusion of judiciary a setback as people "overwhelmingly" wanted judiciary in. "By this, corruption in judiciary is covered nowhere, neither in JAB nor in Lokpal," she said.
Expressing apprehension over the inclusion of NGOs and media under the Lokpal's purview, Kejriwal said this would make matters "more confusing".
"We fully agree that there is a lot of corruption in NGOs as well as in the media, but Lokpal as it was envisioned since 1968 is meant to be an agency that will cover corruption as defined by the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).
"To deal with NGOs there is a Registrar of Society and Trust Act. We need to strengthen it but we demand inclusion of government-funded NGOs as they come under the purview of PCA. For media, Press Council should be strengthened," he said.
However, Bedi welcomed the proposal to bring corporates, media and NGOs under the ambit of Lokpal but noted that one needs to look at the clauses in detail.
Kejriwal said other laws are needed to be strengthened to deal with corruption in media and NGOs as bringing a huge number of NGOs under it "would make things confusing".
Kejriwal also did not agree to the draft report's recommendation on the Citizen's Charter, which has been one of the main demands of Team Anna's Lokpal movement.
Asked if these disagreements meant that the situation was back to square one, Kejriwal said his team was still adopting the "wait and watch" approach. "It would be premature to comment on this. Many processes still remain, lets wait and watch," he said.
Reacting to members unanimously recommending conferring constitutional status on Lokpal, Bedi expressed apprehension that "this may become the reason for not having it".
Ralegan Siddhi/New Delhi: Putting the government on notice on Lokpal issue, Anna Hazare on Tuesday threatened to go on an indefinite fast in Delhi from December 27 while terming that the draft report by Parliamentary Standing Committee as a "betrayal" of countrymen.
Hazare said he did want the government to "make a fool of us" on the issue. Hazare also announced that he will sit on a one-day fast in Delhi's Jantar Mantar on December 11.