Hazare softens stand on Bill

Ready to accept Parliament decision

Hazare softens stand on Bill

Hazare also showed some flexibility on the August 15 deadline he had set for passage of the Lokpal Bill by Parliament saying he was open to extending it if he found that the government was on the right path.

“We will have to accept it. We believe in democracy,” Hazare told media persons here in reply to a question on what would be his stand if Parliament rejected the Lokpal Bill drafted jointly by the government and representatives of the civil society.

Silencing critics

The Gandhian social activist was apparently seeking  to silence his critics, who accused him of caring little for the nation’s parliamentary democracy, blackmailing the government with his fast-unto-death stir earlier this month and forcing the latter into setting up a joint panel for drafting the Lokpal Bill.

Hazare, who called off his fast on April 9 after government notified a Joint Draft Committee, had set August 15 deadline for passage of the bill failing which he would again go on a fast. Announcing to take his anti-corruption crusade across the nation, Hazare said he planned to embark on a tour to 20 states towards the end of this month or early next month.

Wider consultations

Stressing that he was open to have wider public consultations on the Lokpal Bill, Hazare said he was also willing to involve political leaders in the process.

 “We have to take everyone into confidence, including the political class. If they have doubts we will discuss with the chiefs of the political parties,” he said apparently seeking to deflect criticism in certain quarters that his movement was against the political class.

Hazare said that he and four other civil society activists on the joint drafting panel had no problem studying and taking into consideration other drafts of the Lokpal Bill.

The civil society activists had, on Friday, said that the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by them should be considered as the base, while the joint panel would start the process of finalising the draft legislation.

After being accused of ignoring the offices of the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Hazare-led civil society activists made changes in their draft of the Lokpal Bill before presenting it at the first meeting of the joint panel for drafting the proposed legislation on Saturday.

The draft that Hazare-led civil society activist had earlier prepared had vice president and Rajya Sabha chairman as the head of the panel to appoint the Lokpal. The new version now has prime minister at the helm of the selection committee, with Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha replacing Speaker of the House as a member of the panel.

Replying to questions about his fast-unto-death stir, Hazare said it could be called “terrorism of principles” so long the motive behind it was public good.

“It is not wrong to say that we are engaging in terrorism on principles. But it has to have an element of public welfare in it. This is necessary, otherwise it would lead to dictatorship,” he said. Hazare said that he was in favour of stricter laws for government servants, including one to make it mandatory for them to declare their assets.

And, he added, in case of politicians, there should be provisions in the legal system for automatic launch of investigations if there was a large difference in the assets declared by them between two consecutive elections.

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