The Anna Hazare camp on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to push for inclusion of his post in the ambit of Lokpal, arguing that a step otherwise would be “retrograde“.
They also took on Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee for accusing the civil society of trying to undermine democracy and said his statement betrays a “distorted understanding of democracy and arrogance of power“.
Two days ahead of the next meeting of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill, its five activist members, including Mr. Hazare, sent a letter to Singh alleging that the government seems to be shrinking the scope of the anti—corruption regime.
“Taking the Prime Minister out of the ambit the Lokpal would be a retrograde step,” the letter said.
In order to take the Prime Minister out of the purview of the ombudsman, the government will need to amend the Constitution and grant him immunity similar to that enjoyed by the President, they said. They asked if the government is planning to do that and why.
The letter also mentioned that Mr. Mukherjee as chair of the Standing Committee on Lokpal in 2001 had himself recommended that Prime Minister should be covered under Lokpal and then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had agreed to that.
Civil society activist Arvind Kejriwal told reporters that the Prime Minister himself had earlier said he will have no problem in being under Lokpal but his ministers are saying otherwise. “Is there a disconnect between them,” he asked.
“Government purposefully defaming Lokpal movement”
Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare on Monday accused the office bearers of Congress and union ministers of intentionally “defaming” the Lokpal movement and emerging NGO sector in the country.
“They (the government) making lot many allegations, including the so-called hidden support and political agenda designed by RSS and BJP, is a sheer humiliation of sentiments of the common Indians. They are trying to demoralise and confuse agitators fighting against corruption and this proves insensitivity of government,” Mr. Hazare told PTI at Ahmednagar, Maharashtra.
Mr. Hazare also said that he had written a letter to Sonia Gandhi to draw her attention towards the “mudslinging” ahead of the next meeting of the Lokpal draft committee in Delhi.
The anti-corruption crusader, who turns 74 on June 15, was felicitated here by an NGO on Sunday evening.
While expressing his resolve to start hunger strike if the centre fails to enact the Lokpal bill in stipulated time, Mr. Hazare said, “No one can stop the emerging social and political change in India. Now people have realised that they have to become agents of change and must not rely only on leaders and political parties.”
He also reiterated his resolve to start hunger strike if the government goes back on its commitment to Lokpal Bill.
The Civil society activists, led by the Gandhian, had last Monday boycotted the meeting of the Joint Drafting Committee on Lokpal bill saying government’s intentions raised serious doubts about having a strong anti—corruption watchdog and protesting against the police crackdown on yoga guru Baba Ramdev. Hindu