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PM 'deeply disappointed' at Hazare's decision to start fast

Tuesday April 05, 2011 08:18:23 AM, IANS

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Veteran social activist Anna Hazare Monday said he is starting a fast unto death to press for the demand to involve civil society in formulation of the anti-graft Lokpal (ombudsman) Bill.   »

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday expressed his "deep disappointment" over social activist Anna Hazare's decision to go ahead with his planned hunger strike for a strong anti-graft bill, and said he had enormous respect for the social worker and his mission.

A statement issued Monday evening by the Prime Minister's Office said that a ministerial sub-committee headed by Defence Minister A.K. Antony met Hazare's colleagues on the Lokpal (ombudsman) Bill but the interaction proved fruitless as the activists were insisting on the government accepting their draft in full.

"The Prime Minister's Office has noted with deep disappointment that Shri Anna Hazare, the noted social worker, is still planning to go ahead with his planned hunger strike. Shri Hazare and his colleagues had met the Prime Minister, the law minister and other senior officials on March 7, 2011. During the discussion that lasted more than one hour, the Prime Minister had told the group that 'I appreciate and share your concern on corruption'," the statement said.

It said Hazare and his group had presented the prime minister a draft of their proposal on a Lokpal.

"The Prime Minister offered and the group accepted a suggestion that a sub-committee of the Group of Ministers could interact and discuss the draft with the civil society activists. The Sub-Committee, headed by Shri A.K.Antony, met Shri Hazare's colleagues but the interaction proved fruitless as the activists were insisting on the government accepting their draft in full."

"The prime minister has enormous respect for Shri Hazare and his mission," the statement added.

Hazare Monday said he is starting an indefinite fast to press for the demand to involve civil society in formulation of the Lokpal Bill.

"I will fast unto death, as announced earlier, as the prime minister has refused to form a joint committee with civil society members in it for the formulation of the Lokpal Bill. Even if I lose my life, I will have no regret, my life is dedicated to the nation," Hazare said at a press meet here.

Hazare and several other civil society activists are pressing for adoption of an alternate bill, called Jan Lokpal Bill. In the activists' version, investigation in any case will have to be completed in one year, and punishment would be a jail term of minimum 5 years and maximum of life imprisonment.

The government's version recommends a prison term of minimum 6 months and maximum 7 years as punishment for corruption.






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