Questioning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's honesty, the Anna Hazare team
has raised its pitch on the Lokpal bill demanding that its version be placed before Parliament, saying that the "weak"
government draft was a "joke" played on the nation. Hazare stood firm on his threat to go on fast from August 16th
but Delhi Police has banned his ‘satyagrah' with imposition of section 144 (prohibiting the assembly of more than four
persons in and around Jantar Mantar, the venue of the fast.
plans to move the Supreme Court against any government crackdown as happened at Baba Ramdev's fast at Ramlila grounds on June
4, past midnight.
The Gandhian also shot off a letter to the
Prime Minister seeking to punch holes in the government's stand on the anti-corruption law and alleging that the Center and
state governments were pointing fingers at each other to avoid a strong institution to fight corruption.
"The government's draft prepared by the five Ministers in the joint drafting
committee is a joke played on the nation. The scope of the draft is so confined that it does not address the corruption faced
by common man," Hazare said in the letter to Singh informing about his fast from August 16.
Referring to reported statements by some leaders and Ministers that his protest will meet the same fate as that of
yoga guru Ramdev, he told reporters it was "not right" for anyone to talk like that as it is one's fundamental right
to protest. Swami Agnivesh, a core member of the Hazare team, sought to question Singh's honesty, saying that he was elected
to the Rajya Sabha after being shown as a resident of Assam after renting a room in the house of former Chief Minister Hiteshwar
Saikia. "You (Singh) got elected from Assam saying you are a resident of the state. You are not from Assam. You are from
Punjab. Prime Minister talks about honesty. What is this, honesty?" Agnivesh said, adding that he has to listen to the
voice of the people of Assam on the Lokpal issue.
that their version of the bill, the Jan Lokpal bill, be brought in Parliament for discussion, Hazare said, "We want our
version to be introduced in Parliament. If you send a weak bill, what will you discuss?" Opposing the contention that
the Lokpal will look into corruption at higher-level, he alleged that the government draft leaves out everything that matters
to the common man and that none of the big scams come under the ambit of the anti-corruption ombudsman.
"Even the scams which came to light in the recent times do not come under
the ambit of Lokpal. Whether it is Adarsh scam, Commonwealth Games scam, food grain scam, Reddy Brothers scam, Taj Corridor
scam, JMM case, cash-for-vote, fodder scam, Karnataka land scam -- none of these will come under the ambit of Lokpal,"
Hazare claimed in the letter.
It raises a "big" question,
he claimed, that who will come under the ambit of Lokpal and the government was now trying to set up a new institution which
has no powers as it did in the past. He also questioned the government's rationale in sending letters to Chief Ministers seeking
their views on setting up Lokayukta in states, saying that the issue is under concurrent list and there was no need for such
"Did they write letters to Chief Ministers
for the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments (related to Panchayati Raj and urban local bodies)? This time such a letter
was written with a purpose," he said. In his letter, Hazare said, "You are putting the ball in Chief Ministers'
court and the Chief Ministers (are) hitting the ball back to you. Both parties are shifting their responsibilities on to each
others' shoulders," he said. Contesting the government's claim that it could not bring all the employees under the Lokpal,
he asked whether the government intended to allow them to indulge in corruption.
Contending that corruption is as big a crime as rape or murder, Hazare said, "Where will the common man go to
file a case of corruption? Is it not your government's duty to provide relief to a citizen? It is unfortunate that after 64
years of independence the government cannot provide relief to common man who is troubled by corruption. Corruption has become
part and parcel of government. "
"If cases of murder
and rape increase like that of corruption, will this be your response?" he said. Asked whether he would receive support
similar to what he got during his April 5 fast following which a joint Lokpal bill drafting committee was set up, Hazare appeared
confident and said people want a strong set up to fight corruption. "When people are awaken, then the government will
have to listen to their voices. They will have to bring a strong Lokpal bill," he said.
On the question of inclusion of judiciary in the ambit of the ombudsman, Hazare sought to clarify their stand saying
that the Lokpal is not meant to punish judges but just investigate corruption charges against them. "It's just an investigation
and Lokpal will file a report to Supreme Court which will take a decision on it. What is the problem in it? How is the Lokpal
going to transcend law?" Hazare said.
Bhushan said it was a "false belief" that Lokpal will be above Supreme Court if it investigates cases against judges.
"Is the police or the CBI which will investigate cases against judges above the courts?" he said.
Bhushan said they had approached Delhi Police seeking permission for the indefinite
fast but "curiously" the force had asked them to first get permission from New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). "We
are in talks with the police. We will also seek the permission of NDMC as they demanded. But this is against a fundamental
right to protest against government. This move is against Constitution. If they deny us permission, then we will approach
Supreme Court," he said.