As the government failed to obtain a political consensus today, the battle lines were redrawn as social activist Anna Hazare today said he would be continuing with his fast on 25 March to press for a strong Lokpal, his first public protest since last year’s lacklustre rally in Mumbai.
“The meeting was called yesterday but we have learnt that there has been no consensus on it.,” Hazare said.
“Among those who have been fighting against corruption, 25 of them have been murdered. Under Jan Lokpal we are saying that laws like the whistleblower law must be introduced but the government is not prepared to do it. To condemn this we will be protesting at Jantar Mantar on 25 March, ” he said.
At the all-party meet of Rajya Sabha members convened by the Prime Minister at his residence, it was agreed that the government will work for a consensus on the wording of contentious aspects of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill during the intervening period of the Budget Session.
“The government along with major political parties will come out with a consensus. The government is committed to bring the Bill in this session. …The actual wording of the Lokpal Bill will be worked out during the intervening period the Budget Session,” Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M) told reporters after the meeting.
He said the Bill cannot come up during the first half of the current session ending March 30, as the budget has to be passed before the end of the current financial year.
“The Bill will be taken up in the second half..This week it cannot come up in this session as the budget has to be passed,” said Yechury.
UPA’s allies Trinamool Congress and DMK also raised the issue that the Centre should not interfere with the powers of the states for having Lokayuktas. Other like the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Ramvilas Paswan of the LJP opposed the creation of a Lokpal altogether.
Former IPS official Kiran Bedi, who has been supporting Hazare, said they were heartened by the fact that political parties had failed to agree on passing the Lokpal bill through the Rajya Sabha.
“Well it seems that the one which was passed by the Lok Sabha is wide open and if it is wide open it means that this weak bill has been exposed,” she told CNN-IBN.
As per the bill passed by the Lok Sabha oversight over the CBI still was with the government in power, then it makes no difference and was its passage was a retrograde step, she said.
“If the government is amending what it passed in the Lok Sabha then it is something to look forward to,” Bedi said, adding that with the issue of federalism coming to the fore the various states could come up with Lok Ayuktas to deal with corruption at the state level.
Among those who will be participating in the rally include yoga guru Baba Ramdev who had supported the rally organised by Anna at the Ramlila grounds in Delhi last year, but his solo effort at a protest against funds stashed illegally abroad ended in a debacle.