The Anna Hazare-led civil society team has said that it had no intention of quitting the joint drafting committee of the Lokpal bill, a day after the government said that it was ready to draft the legislation, with or without them.
Reacting to Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s remarks, social activist Arvind Kejriwal alleged that he was trying to ensure that civil society members quit the committee. Hazare’s team had boycotted the Lokpal bill drafting committee’s meeting on Monday to protest the eviction of yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his supporters from Ramlila Maidan. They also plan to hold a one-day fast at Rajghat over the issue on Wednesday.
“Sibal is putting words in our mouths and, it seems, he wants us to say that we won’t be attending future meetings. We won’t let you (Sibal) off so easily. The five civil society members make it clear that they had every intention of attending the meetings of the committee.”
Kejriwal said that this was implicit in their letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. “Kapil Sibal has said that whether we come or not, they will go ahead with the drafting of the Lokpal Bill. Why did that question arise? We had written to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that we will not be attending Monday’s meeting.
We also said that Anna Hazare will not be available on June 10 and so the meeting be postponed. So it is clear that we are going to attend the next meeting. We are not going to leave the committee just like that,” Arvind Kejriwal said.
On Monday, Sibal had said that the five ministers had finalised some sections of the draft Bill, even though civil society members had boycotted the meeting. As part of the government’s tough talk, Sibal took objection to the boycott and said that the committee would do its work “with or without them”. Kejriwal claimed that the panel and its draft would have no credibility without civil society members, as it would then become a government panel comprising five ministers.
He said that the government should ‘tone down arrogance’ and be ‘more tolerant’. On Sibal’s allegation of the use of “unacceptable language,” Kejriwal accused Sibal of “putting words in their mouth,” denying that they used any uncivil language against the government.
“The government should be more tolerant. Our language is not uncivil but they should not be so arrogant. Our fight is not against any individual but the system. Annaji said that the government has lied from time to time and is plotting against us. What is wrong in that? They are upset because of these comments but the people of India are upset for the last 62 years.”