civil society .s triumph over the Lokpal bill seems to have lost some of its sheen because of reports of infighting among the top leaders and charges of “nepotism” . After winning a battle with the government, social activist Anna Hazare and his supporters were on Sunday trying hard to dispel the impression that there was any discord within civil society. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s charges of nepotism in forming the Lokpal bill drafting committee in which Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant Bhushan were both members found echo among several in civil society.
At a press conference here, Hazare and his supporters tried to play down the criticism over the membership of the 10-member joint panel of the government and civil society. They also made it clear that the committee’s composition was final and ruled out making any changes in it. “People have been asking there are differences on the members of the committee, I want to say it was a small difference and it has been sorted. I talked to Ramdev. He raised the issue that Kiran Bedi is not in the committee, Kiran Bedi had refused to be in the committee long back,” Hazare said. He said experienced people and law experts were needed on the panel to draft a stringent anticorruption law.
Hazare also said that this was the reason why he too did not want to be part of the panel. Shanti Bhushan also said that legal experts were needed in drafting of the bill and not a yoga guru. Another member of the committee Arvind Kejriwal said Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan understand the nittygritties of the bill as they were part of its first draft. Kiran Bedi described the panelists as the “best team” to understand the law and fight with the government to ensure an effective legislation.
Hazare described Ramdev’s comments as a “family matter” and said the “misunderstanding will be sorted out” . With the controversy casting a shadow over the crusade’s victory to set up a joint committee for drafting the Lokpal bill, Baba Ramdev too toned down, saying he was only trying to find out why Kiran Bedi was not included . Baba Ramdev also said he trusted Anna Hazare and whatever decision he took would be “correct” .
The panel includes Hazare, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde. From the government side, the committee — which is headed by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee — comprises Law Minister Veerappa Moily, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid. Economic Times