BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter
New Delhi: Veteran social activist Anna Hazare and his team of civil society activists asked the central government yesterday to come out with the Lokpal Bill by August 15. “If the government misses this deadline, we will stage another round of sit-in from August 16,” Hazare said at Rajghat during his daylong fast in protest of police action against Baba Ramdev and his followers late Saturday night at Delhi’s Ramlila Ground.
Following the announcement made by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal that the Lokpal Bill drafting panel would alone formulate the legislation with or without the cooperation of civil society members, Anna Hazare and his team has hardened its position.
Hazare also said that they would continue to boycott the panel until the government acquiesced to their demands. With the government making its intention of completing the Lokpal Bill drafting process by June 30, the threat of the confrontation between the two sides escalating further looks real. RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, while addressing the Rajghat gathering, said the government wanted the prime minister out of the Lokpal’s purview.
“They want the prime minister out of its ambit and be allowed to indulge in corruption . They do not want judges or MPs under it . Should we compromise? They said they are committed to bringing this law, but if you are keeping everyone out of it, it will be a blank paper,” Kejriwal said amid huge applause .
In the mammoth gathering at Rajghat yesterday, the RTI activist announced that electoral and judicial reforms would be the next agenda of his team.
Kejriwal said that their movement would not stop at the enactment of a proper Lokpal Bill. He said said that the next phase of their struggle would be for electoral and judicial reforms as well as decentralization.
The dharna at Rajghat , which was announced only two days ago , attracted a large crowd, with women, youth and even children braving the summer heat and heavy police barricading to make it to the venue . Songs poking fun anti-corruption at high places and the government’s inability to rein it in, with patriotism thrown in, were sung by local groups.
Placards denigrating the government and Congress leaders were displayed prominently . After paying tributes at Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi , Hazare , accompanied by retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi , the father-son duo of Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan , rights activist Swami Agnivesh , besides Kejriwal , reached the hunger strike venue at around 10.20am to a rapturous welcome from the assembled crowd .