Just a day before the UPA cabinet is scheduled to discuss the new lokpal draft bill — following a broad consensus reached among the stakeholders — the prime mover for the bill, Anna Hazare, raised the stake by one more notch.
Accusing the government of betraying the people, Hazare wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and reiterated his demand for including the citizens’ charter in the draft and bringing the CBI under the functional control of the watchdog.
But the cabinet has already approved a separate bill for the citizen’s charter and is likely to keep administrative control of the CBI out of the proposed lokpal.
Hazare also said in Bangalore on Saturday that if the government did not meet his demands, he would go ahead with his indefinite fast from December 27 and initiate a ‘jail bharo’ agitation from December 30. “Even if I die for this important work, I don’t care.”
The government is thinking of extending the winter session of Parliament by a few days to clear the bill. The cabinet is expected to consider the draft bill that takes into account the views of various political parties on Sunday.
The bill may be introduced in Parliament by Tuesday. “Anna will be in the visitor’s gallery when the government tables the lokpal bill in Parliament,” said his aide Suresh Pathare.
In his letter to Singh, Hazare accused the government of going back on its promise. "You (the PM) have written to me and now you are changing your stand, saying it (the citizen’s charter bill) will be sent to the standing committee. That will take another four months.
Don't you think that people are being cheated?"
The Congress, however, advised Hazare to wait for Parliament to clear the bill. “Nobody should be in a hurry. It is a very important bill. One should have patience. The government will get it passed as early as possible,” said Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi.
Even the BJP and Left had similar words of advice. “One can raise demands, but cannot pressure Parliament,” the CPI-M’s Basudeb Acharia said. The BJP’s Prakash Javadekar said Hazare should allow Parliament to discuss the bill.