Anna Hazare to fast for Lokpal bill

Saturday, February 26, 2011

NEW DELHI - Eminent social activist Anna Hazare Saturday threatened to go go on indefinite fast from April 5 if the prime minister does not initiate action for formulation of a strong Lokpal bill, or anti-graft legislation, in consultation with the civil society by March end.

“I have written to the prime minister, if he doesn’t takes a decision on drafting a strong Lokpal bill by March-end, I will go on an indefinite fast from April 5,” Hazare told reporters.

Hazare, in his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has demanded that the government immediately set up a committee with at least half of its member being from the civil society.

“How could the officials and politicians draft an anti-corruption law against themselves? At least half of the members of the committee should be from the civil society,” Hazare told reporters here.

The Lokpal Bill, 2010, which awaits a select parliamentary committee’s nod, provides for filing complaints of corruption against the prime minister, ministers and MPs with the ombudsman.

However, the activists said that the Lokpal bill in its present form is toothless and have drafted a separate Jan Lokpal bill taking view and suggestions from civil society and common people in account.

The activist’s bill demands that the Lokpal and Lokayukta, who will be the corruption watchdogs, be independent bodies unlike the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is under the government and can not function independently. It also emphasises on time-bound investigation.

The 72-year-old activist called upon the nation to join him in the fast.

“I appeal to all the people, Lokpal Bill is the second struggle for independence. Even if I am martyred it doesn’t matter. When the fast starts, everyone who can shall join me in the fast from where ever they are,” he said.

“It is not about Anna Hazare, it is about the country,” he said.

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