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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

Need experts in panel for Lokpal Bill: Anna Hazare

IANS  New Delhi, April 10, 2011
First Published: 20:37 IST(10/4/2011) | Last Updated: 22:27 IST(10/4/2011)

Denying any differences among activist leaders, veteran social reformer Anna Hazare on Sunday said that the process of drafting the Lokpal Bill needed experienced people and law experts on the panel.

"People have been asking there are differences on the members of the committee, I want to say it was a small difference and it has been sorted out. I talked to Ramdev, he raised the issue that Kiran Bedi is not in the committee, Kiran Bedi had refused to be in the committee long back," Hazare told reporters at the Press Club in New Delhi.

He was reacting to the statement Yoga guru Baba Ramdev made on Saturday, alleging "nepotism" in the 10 member government-civil society joint drafting committee, referring to the inclusion of the father-son duo of Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan in it and the exclusion of Kiran Bedi, one of the leading activists.

Ramdev on Sunday retracted his comments and voiced support to the efforts.

Hazare said: "The committee is not permanent, it has been formed only for two months and we should not think that he or she is there or not there. We need experienced people because the law should be stringent, and law experts have been kept on it."

"That was the whole reason I did not want to be on it but they said if I am in the committee it will put pressure on the government," he told reporters in the morning.

The veteran Gandhian said that all the 10 members of the drafting committee should declare their assets.

"We will take up the matter before the committee. I agree that details of personal assets of all members of the committee should be in public domain," he said.

The process of formulating the act will be videographed and the proceedings will be made public, he said.

Insisting that it was unfair to compare him with Mahatma Gandhi, the crusader said if he were to contest an election, he will lose his security deposit.

Hazare, who stressed he was not supporting any political party, had a word of praise for chief ministers Nitish Kumar of Bihar and Narendra Modi of Gujarat for the development achieved in their states.

Reacting to Ramdev's criticism, Shanti Bhushan said: "Anna Hazare has said it's the peoples' victory and Baba Ramdev is included in it. What he feels about the drafting committee … he can't be there as law experts are needed not a yoga guru."

Kiran Bedi, former top cop and Magsaysay award winner, said "this is the best team that can fight with the government and understand the technicalities of the law".

Arvind Kejriwal, one of the members of the committee, said that both Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan were part of the first draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by them and that they "understand the nitty-gritty of the bill so they will naturally be part of it".

Hazare ended his 97-hour hunger strike on Saturday on a happy note after the government conceded to his demand for representation of the civil society in the drafting panel of the anti-graft bill.

A day after 73-year-old Anna's nation-stirring fast ended and quiet returned to Jantar Mantar, the hub of the activities in the capital over the last five days, reactions kept pouring from across the country and abroad.

While most expressed hope and optimism, there were at least some who were sceptical if the anti-graft bill would succeed in tackling corruption.

"I admire Anna's willpower but this was a mere blackmail which was successful only because of the media hype. There are similar agitations taking place around the country, some for the past few decades but no government has budged in those cases because of no media interest," said Pariskhit Kirit, a share broker in the capital.

A sceptical Angad Rajvanshi, 32, said: "The politicians in our country are too cunning and selfish to give away their powers to citizens for free. We should wait and watch till the bill becomes a law with an eye on the amendments that would be made in the process."

Anna wants law by Aug 15 | 'Unfair to compare me with Gandhi' | Anna rules out change in Lokpal panel team | 'No nepotism in Lokpal panel'


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