TIES between Anna Hazare and his former protege Arvind Kejriwal reached a new low on Sunday with Hazare associate Kiran Bedi accusing the Aam Aadmi Party chief of trying to keep the issue of the Lokpal alive for political purposes even though most of their demands regarding the Bill had been met.
Hazare denied Kejriwals claim that he had been misled by some people to believe that the governments Lokpal Bill was strong and effective. He wouldnt try convincing AAP otherwise though,Anna added,as it wasnt an important enough party.
Speaking to mediapersons on the sixth day of his fast,Hazare said that he had read the draft Lokpal Bill tabled in the Rajya Sabha and was satisfied with the provisions. I dont want to die fasting to demand that each and every suggestion made by me should be included. I want to live because I want to start future agitations for more pro-people laws. I am satisfied with the current draft and I want to break my fast if that Bill is passed, he said.
Kejriwal,however,continued his attack on the government Bill,calling it a far cry from the Jan Lokpal Bill which had been drafted by Team Anna following the fast at Ramlila grounds. Leave alone ministers,not even a rat will go to jail on the basis of this Bill. No proper investigation will be possible under it, the AAP chief said at a press conference in Delhi,repeating that the proposed legislation was a Jokepal Bill.
Hazare said he was not a gullible child to get misled by anybody. I have pressured governments (state and Union) to enact seven pro-people laws so far. Even when the Ramlila Maidan protest was on,I communicated directly with the Prime Minister without discussing with any associates. I take my decisions based on my experience and understanding; I am not a gullible child. I do whatever I think is good for society and the country. If you think this Bill is not good enough,then you should start your own movement to improve the law, he said.
When asked if he would engage AAP to get their support on the Bill,he said it was not an important enough party. How many MPs do they have? Why should I engage them?
Bedi,who is fasting alongside Anna,said: I dont know why Arvind is creating so much clamour. Anna wants a strong and effective law to fight corruption but he wants to keep the issue alive because he has a political party now.
AAP leader Prashant Bhushan said there were three things amiss in the governments Bill. Addressing the Delhi press conference,he said these were inclusion of all public servants under the investigative purview of the Lokpal; enabling the Lokpal to monitor citizens charters and to penalise public authorities who violated it; and the provision for Lokayuktas on Lokpal lines for states to look at corruption by government officials.
AAP leaders said the Bill also left the Lokpals corruption investigations in the hands of a government-controlled CBI. If they make the CBI independent… even our Prime Minister might got to jail in some case… the 2G or the coal scam, Kejriwal said.
When asked about suggestions that the Bill be passed and amendments taken up later,Kejriwal said,When they indulge in corrupt practices,do they do it in instalments? What is the point of passing a Bill and amending the law later? Why dont they pass a strong Bill?
Asked about Bedi,Kejriwal said,I respect her a lot. She has always talked about the CBIs autonomy.
AAP leader Gopal Rai,who had gone to Ralegan Siddhi to join Hazare in his hunger strike but had to leave the venue after Hazare told him to,ended his fast Sunday at the press meeting.
Urging Hazare too to end his fast,AAP leaders said hunger strikes and protests did not help. Some people close to Annaji are misleading him… I am hurt by his support to the Bill. Whenever we meet him,we will share our views with him, Kejriwal said.
AAP leaders added that even if the government Bill is passed,the Jan Lokpal agitation will continue. We will go to each corner of the country and make people aware about this Bill, Kejriwal said.
Hazare said that even if parties like the Samajwadi Party and Shiv Sena oppose the Bill,it was the responsibility of the government to pass it. If need be the government should extend the Winter Session of Parliament but make sure that the Bill is passed in both the Houses in this session itself,he said.
The physician who examined Hazare said he had lost 4.1 kg weight since he began his fast but his other vital parameters were stable.
While Sunday saw greater numbers at the fast venue,the crowd was still only around a thousand.