HindustanTimes Thu,25 Dec 2014

All-out war as Kejriwal, Anna exchange lokpal barbs

HT Correspondent, Agencies  New Delhi, December 15, 2013
First Published: 18:22 IST(15/12/2013) | Last Updated: 12:53 IST(16/12/2013)

The breakdown of relations between Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal took a turn for the worse on Sunday with the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) leader expressing disappointment with his one-time mentor for supporting the government’s Lokpal bill, which will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha today.

“Such a weak bill can’t even send a mouse to jail, forget corrupt ministers… By keeping the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under the government’s administrative control, all other points in the bill are meaningless.

I am a little unhappy at the support Annaji has given to the bill. Perhaps he is not aware of the full story. When we meet him some time, we will explain to him how the law is bad,” Kejriwal said, adding that Hazare had been misled by certain elements.

Kejriwal — fresh from his party’s impressive performance in the Delhi assembly polls that decimated the Congress — also said the lokpal exercise was designed purely to give credit to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

The AAP said the bill could not be called “lokpal since it is a jokepal in its present form”, and vowed to continue its struggle for a janlokpal bill.

This drew a sharp retort from Hazare aide Kiran Bedi, who tweeted: “How can a political leadership that is opposing all other political parties concede lokpal to others, which weakens their very foundation? Lokpal is certainly not a jokepal.”

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Kejriwal’s colleague, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, said the current version of the bill being brought before the Parliament will not create an independent lokpal or provide the corruption watchdog with an independent probe agency. He also criticised the move to delink the bill from the creation of the post of lokayuktas in every state.

“The Gujarat example shows it is extremely important to make it mandatory for states to set up this institution,” he said.

Read: Congress, BJP slam Kejriwal over 18-point questionnaire

Read: AAP plans contesting all 26 LS seats in Gujarat

Hazare, who is fasting for a strong lokpal bill in his village Ralegan Siddhi, on Saturday said, “I accept it (government’s lokpal bill) completely. If this bill is passed, I will end my fast. The bill will help the poor people of this country.”

Simmering for a while, the spat between Hazare and Kejriwal blew up on Friday when Hazare asked AAP leader Gopal Rai to leave his fast venue, taking exception to Rai cutting into former army chief General VK Singh’s speech. Rai had objected to Singh making an apparent reference to Kejriwal.

After Rai’s departure, Hazare had said, “If someone feels humiliated, let it be... All the people know who reached where because of whom.”

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