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'Scams put govt on defensive against Anna, Ramdev'

Minister and lokpal committee member Salman Khurshid speaks to HT editors, says civil society activists are undermining democracy with their demands. Lokpal walk into living rooms of people for a probe if their demands are met, he said. HT reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 17, 2011 20:08 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

A series of scams pushed the government into "defence" and gave civil society an opportunity to pressure for their demands, said union minister Salman Khurshid on Friday.

"If there were no 2G or CWG we could have treated the matter (civil society's demand for a strong lokpal) differently. We went into a bit of defence," said Khurshid while speaking to senior editors of Hindustan Times. He was referring to alleged irregularities in the 2G telecom spectrum allocation and waste and mismanagement in organization of the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

Khurshid admitted the government had difficulty in dealing with activist Anna Hazare and yoga guru Ramdev, who both went on fasts to protest against corruption, but insisted it had regained political ground.

He accused civil society members of undermining the constitution and wanting to run a "parallel government".

"They want a lokpal representative present everywhere; they want to run a parallel government. We did not expect them to be so unreasonable. Their approach puts a serious question mark on their perception of democracy," said Khurshid, who is minister for minority affairs and water resources.

"They want the lokpal walk into living rooms for a probe. Their idea of servants of the people is like the servants at home."

He accused Hazare's team of misleading the public by confusing corruption with misadministration. "The way a law is made can be disagreed but there are ways for that disagreement. And we are making those distinctions," said Khurshid, adding a draft of the lokpal bill will be ready by June 30.

Khurshid is a member of the lokpal bill drafting committee which is headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and comprises members from the government and civil society.

Talks between government and civil society members of the drafting committee have reached a stalemate with Hazare declaring that he will sit on a second fast in Delhi from August 16 "if the Lokpal is not according to (our) aspirations".

First Published: Jun 17, 2011 18:19 IST