Bill in House, fast won't help, says PM

No magic wand to check graft

Bill in House, fast won't help, says PM

As corruption dominated his speech on the 65th Independence Day from the ramparts of Red Fort here, Singh, whose government is facing several corruption charges, decried hunger strikes as a means to achieve the objective in an apparent reference to civil society activist Anna Hazare who is agitating for a strong Lokpal bill to check corruption in high places.

“We want a strong Lokpal to prevent corruption in high places.  We have recently introduced a bill in Parliament to achieve this.  Now only Parliament can decide what type of Lokpal legislation should be enacted,” he said. Without taking names, Manmohan Singh referred to Anna Hazare's proposed indefinite fast and said: "Those who don’t agree with this bill can put forward their views to Parliament, political parties and even the press. However, I also believe that they should not resort to hunger strikes and fasts-unto-death."

The prime minister said India has the potential to be one of the major economic powers globally. “But the problem of corruption is a big obstacle in such a transformation,” he said.

Singh accepted that “there is no single big step” to eradicate corruption and called for multi-dimensional strategy to fight corrupt practices hampering growth of the country.
With Team Anna adamant over the hunger strike for a stronger Lokpal that includes PM and judiciary, Singh said the government wanted a bill that created and gave statutory powers to an anti-corruption watchdog to prevent corruption in high places.

Expressing his reservation over bringing judiciary under the purview of Lokpal, Singh remarked: “It is not appropriate to bring the judiciary under the ambit of Lokpal.  We believe that any such provision would go against the independence of the judiciary,” he said.

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