Indian gov't calls on Gandhian anti-graft activist to respect political process

08:47, June 17, 2011      

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Amid growing differences with civil society members on the proposed anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government of India Thursday hit back at social activist Anna Hazare, saying that they will draft a strong and sound Lokpal Bill by June 30.

"Hope to do it along with the members of draft Lokpal Bill committee. We continued with the work even when they stayed away. It is our indication of our resolve and intention of what we want to do," Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said.

"The Bill is intended to put in place a strong institution to help all of us to combat corruption. There are political realities. No party in India commands majority in the parliament. There is a gap between what is desirable and feasible. We must respect political process," the Home Minister said.

He also added that other political parties too have a view and that has to be respected.

"Once the bill is passed, one will say that a good job is done, " he averred.

Accusing the Government of not being keen on fighting corruption, Hazare said that "the Government forcibly broke the fast of Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev."

"I am not scared of anything like this. I am ready to face lathicharge. I am going to begin my fast again at Jantar Mantar from August 16 onwards," he said.

Meanwhile, Indian Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said that the Gandhian cannot threaten a negotiating process in drafting the anti-graft law.

"When the process started, what was presented to us was a version of the draft Jan Lokpal Bill. We have been analyzing it under constitutional framework. In several areas, we have an agreement with them. There are certain fundamental disagreements with the issues. The basic issue confronting us was the structure of the Lokpal committee. There were discussions on the structure of Lokpal Bill, these were not decisions, but discussions," he said.

On Hazare's decision to go on fast on August 16, Sibal added, " you can't threaten a negotiating process."

Sibal also stated that a parallel government cannot be there, which controls the activities of government. He mentioned that the issues which need to be focused upon are not being discussed and focused.

Sibal said that the government is willing to negotiate even after threat and none of the other issues raised was even discussed.

"This is not the way that nominees of Anna Hazare should carry forward the discourse," he said.

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