Civil society activists, who are part of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee, today used Anna Hazare's agitation site to hold an open house to educate people on what they want from the bill and mobilise public support in favour of a strong ombudsman.
Addressing people assembled at Rajghat to support Hazare's one-day fast, Arvind Kejriwal, Shanti and Prashant Bhushan and other speakers, spoke strongly in favour of bringing the PM and the higher judiciary under the ambit of the Lokpal, an issue of friction between the civil society and the government.
The point and clauses raised by the activists found resonance with the people who responded with loud cheers. "It is said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a very honest person," said Kejriwal, to which people responded with loud boos. "The Prime Minister should stand up and say yes I want to come under the Lokpal authority," he said.
Talking about the need to have a Lokpal that has the authority of investigating the Prime Minister, Kejriwal asked: "What if a person like Madhu Koda or A Raja becomes prime minister, which is very much possible given our system? "The Prime Minister is an authority who has all the knowledge of the country's secrets.
He needs more to be brought under Lokpal ambit," Kejriwal said. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, another member of the drafting committee, said if the government has reservations over the proposals of the civil society activists, let it conduct the country's first referendum to decide which version of the Bill people want. He also sought to shed the "myth" that there was threat of the ombudsman becoming too powerful an authority, and said they were trying to make it transparent and accoountable.