Don't push Lokpal 'too hard': Freedom fighters tell Hazare

Don't push Lokpal 'too hard': Freedom fighters tell Hazare

Don't push Lokpal 'too hard': Freedom fighters tell Hazare

They also view "businessman" Ramdev's self-coined 'Satyagraha' to bring back black money stashed abroad as an "absurd" episode similar to a "Bollywood movie" in which he wanted to create a show and not agitate against corruption.

The freedom fighters were among the first to sit on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar demanding setting up of a strong Lokpal before the now-famous fast-unto-death protest by Hazare in April.

"We are writing to Hazare that his threat to sit on a hunger strike from August 16 if the Lokpal Bill is not passed could prove counter-productive. This is not the way to press hard with your own calendar, when even the draft is not ready. One must live to fight," Shambhu Dutta, general secretary of the Gandhian Seva and Satyagraha Brigade, told PTI.

93-year-old Dutta, who along with his five colleagues, was the first to sit on fast-unto-death on January 30 on the Lokpal issue, said, "Fissures have appeared in the joint drafting committee. We have given our full support to Hazare but the civil society seems to be pushing the matter too hard.

"They have demanded so many things to be put within the jurisdiction or ambit of Lokpal that no government probably can agree," Dutta, an ex-army officer, said.

He was of the view that the bill should be allowed to pass as amendments can be made in the coming year or two. "It is wrong to be adamant over the provisions of Jan Lokpal Bill," he said.The group also feels that it is "disingenuous" to call for the inclusion of the higher judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal but was in favour of bringing the Prime Minister under it.

"When they (Lokpal) will give their findings and they are not acted upon then it will come to the higher judiciary. There have to be checks and balances on the Lokpal himself. If corruption can be alleged in the judiciary it can be alleged within the Lokpal that is created," Dutta said.

Terming Ramdev's method of protest as "fascist", 84-year-old freedom fighter Kumari R S Devi said it was "funny that he evaded arrest by disguising as a woman. He wanted to create a show and not agitate against corruption."

Slamming Ramdev's anti-corruption agitation as an "absurdity not to be indulged in", Dutta said the spirit of Satyagraha is "not to runaway but to sacrifice and surrender.
"A Satyagrahi would not disguise himself as a woman and run away. Ramdev's protest is an absurdity that people must not indulge in since no government will tolerate it," he said.

K P Sahu, author of the book 'Religious Quest' and a retired teacher from Rourkela, feared Ramdev was getting close to groups like RSS which will harm the cause.

"Satyagraha, in the true sense, supplements the democratic process by lending teeth to the structure.  He should have compromised with the government," he said.

However, Dutta demanded debarring corrupt politicians from contesting elections and confiscating illegally acquired property. He now plans to start a protest soon till a time-frame is given by the government to act on these matters.