BeyondHeadlines News Desk
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday admired civil rights activist Anna Hazare a lot, calling him the embodiment of “our people’s disgust and concern about tackling corruption” while defending his own record by inviting the opposition to scrutinize properties he or his family members had acquired in his 40-odd years in public life, English daily The Times of India reported.
The prime minister said that he was “hurt” by charges levelled against him and that although he had made mistakes, he was not guilty of misdemeanor. “In the course of seven years as prime minister, I may have made mistakes. Who is above making mistakes? To err is human but to accuse me of evil intentions, of conniving at corruption is a charge I firmly repudiate,” he said.
Making a fairly lengthy intervention in Lok Sabha during the debate on corruption, Singh for a change did not come across as a leader who sticks to prepared texts, as he spoke with passion and a certain sincerity of purpose, admitting, “There is anger in the country. There is anger about the misuse of public offices.”
Acknowledging the challenge corruption posed to his government, the PM accorded top priority to combating graft in the remainder of his term. “…in the two-and-a-half years that is left to us, we will do everything in our power to clean the system of this country,” he said. He outlined several measures ranging from improving regulatory mechanisms to reform of the public delivery system.
He mounted a spirited defence, countering BJP leader M M Joshi’s allegations that he was unable to check graft. “He made a powerful speech and he turned into a personal attack on me as if I am the fountainhead of corruption and that I have knowingly connived at corruptions of some of my colleagues,” said the PM who added he was more than willing to accept the verdict of an inquiry conducted by the leader of opposition.
Appealing to Hazare to give up his fast, the PM said he respected the fasting leader’s convictions. “I respect his idealism. I respect him as an individual… I applaud him, I salute him. His life is much too precious and therefore, I would urge Anna Hazare to end his fast,” he said.
Interestingly, just ahead of his comments in Lok Sabha, the PM had an unplanned, informal exchange with MPs in Rajya Sabha after the House adjourned on Thursday morning. Singh remained on his seat and soon some 15-20 MPs including CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, MoS in PMO V Narayanasamy and several other members gathered around.