Government has betrayed India, will fast from August 16: Anna

6:24 PM, Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Anna hazareNew Delhi:  The government has fixed July 3 for a discussion with all political parties on the Lokpal Bill, the basis of a tough new law against corruption.  Parties will study two drafts of the same Bill – one prepared by the government, the other by activists led by Gandhian Anna Hazare.
The decision to circulate two drafts was made yesterday after the two groups that make up the Drafting Committee of the Bill failed to find common ground. The five ministers and five activists led by Mr Hazare on the committee have met nine times to thrash out their differences. Their efforts came to naught.
After dismissing the government’s version of the bill as “a thorough betrayal,” Mr Hazare has declared that he will go on a hunger fast on August 16 – “a second freedom struggle at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar,” he declared at a press conference in the capital today. “Corruption is a bigger threat to India than Pakistan,” the 74-year-old said. Activists also plan to launch a nationwide campaign to educate people about their version of the Bill.
The Lokpal Bill provides for a panel of 16 members to investigate charges of corruption. How they will be selected, who they can investigate, and how they will be removed have all become major points of contention between the government and Team Anna.
The government has decided that the Lokpal Bill should not apply to the Prime Minister’s Office. Activists say that’s a flaw they cannot overlook. Team Anna also wants the Lokpal to be able to investigate all charges of corruption against politicians, bureaucrats, senior judges and MPs. To enable this, Team Anna wants the CBI to report to the Lokpal, instead of the government.
Ministers say Team Anna’s vision of the Lokpal is untenable. “Can we have a parallel investigative agency outside the government answerable to nobody outside the framework of the Constitution? This is the fundamental issue that the people of this country will have to decide,” said senior minister Kapil Sibal last night.
In April, Jantar Mantar became the base camp for lakhs of Indians who supported Mr Hazare as he fasted for nearly a week.
Satellite protests in cities across India stumped the government, which agreed to Mr Hazare’s demands – that a new law against corruption be enacted, and that activists be formally involved in drafting the law.
After arguing that legislation was the prerogative of Parliament, the government gave in. Mr Hazare and four activists formed one half of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee; five senior ministers formed the other.

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