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Hazare threatens another fast from Aug 16

Thursday June 16, 2011 07:14:43 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Gandhian activist Anna Hazare Thursday said he will sit on a fast here again from Aug 16 as the government had turned its back on drafting a strong anti-graft Lokpal bill.

"I stopped my fast at Jantar Mantar because the government said our demands will be met," a peeved Hazare told a news conference here.

"Now that the government is turning its back on the promise, I will fast again from Aug 16," he said, referring to the day after India's independence day.

The 74-year-old social activist was speaking a day after civil society activists met government representatives to thrash out the key issues in drafting the Lokpal bill.

The meeting ended on a bitter note as there was no consensus on crucial issues, and a decision was taken that both the sides would present their versions of the bill to the cabinet.

"Suddenly they have changed their position," Hazare said. "If the two drafts were to be sent, then why did they form the joint committee? They could have this earlier.

"What was the point of wasting so much time? It is clear the government is not interested in eradicating corruption."

He said the government had gone back on all their promises one by one.

"When I went on hunger strike (in April), they said we will go by whatever you say.

"I called off my fast on the government's promise. Since the government is not sincere, I will start my fast from Aug 16. Even if I have to die, it does not matter."

In April, Hazare sat on an indefinite hunger strike to press the government for a strong Lokpal bill, which envisages bringing the prime minister, judges and bureaucrats under its purview. The government had to bow to the demand after seeing the mass movement and formed a 10-member drafting committee to thrash out the finer details of the bill.

The five civil society members held a press conference here Thursday evening, where Arvind Kejriwal called the government version of the Lokpal bill a "jokepal" bill.

"The government has frittered away a huge opportunity to provide a good legislation to the country. This was all a drama. The government's Lokpal bill is not a Lokpal bill, it is a jokepal bill," he said.

Eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan also warned other political parties that they will have to face consequences if they pass the government version of the Lokpal bill.

Speaking earlier Thursday, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh asked the civil society members to change their attitude towards the government.

"The so-called civil society members have to understand that this is a parliamentary democracy and there is a constitution. The parliament frames the law, rules and is accountable to the people," Singh told reporters.

"Eminent people are there in the (Lokpal bill) drafting committee and they should not say that the government is with them or against them. This attitude will not help," he added.




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