‘No tainted ministers in joint committee’

Supporters of social activist Anna Hazare participate in a protest against corruption, in the backdrop of a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi, in Hyderabad,  April 8. The 73-year-old Hazare, an Indian activist harnessing the tactics of Gandhi, has galvanized public anger at rampant corruption with a high-profile hunger strike demanding the government adopt immediate reforms. (AP Photo)
 
NEW DELHI, April 8 (PTI): Anna Hazare on Friday demanded the appointment of a chairman and a co-chairman for the proposed joint committee to draft an effective Lokpal Bill and rejected the government’s offer of setting up of the committee by a letter of the law ministry. He also said there should be no “tainted” ministers in the joint committee comprising civil society members and ministers.
Addressing his supporters at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, even as three of his emissaries were engaged in discussions with Union ministers, the 73-year old Gandhian said his anti-corruption movement has achieved considerable success and will not cow down before the government.
“We have not accepted the government’s offer of constitution of the committee through a letter from the law minister. There should be a government order on behalf of the government,” he said adding this has been made clear to the emissaries for discussion with the ministers.
He said his campaign has also demanded from the government that the committee should have a chairman and a co-chairman. “If there is a chairman from the government side then the Cabinet will have to accept the recommendations of the committee on the Bill”. Claiming that his anti-graft movement has achieved quite a lot of success, he said the government has accepted the proposal for a joint committee and it will have five members from each side.
To the cheers of the assembled gathering, he said, there should be no tainted ministers in the committee. Asked if there were five untainted ministers in the government, Hazare said “they should be least tainted”. He said he has accepted to be a member of the committee to keep pressure on the government.
To a question he said, “We have not reached nay compromise. If our chairman is there then it will be difficult for them. But if a minister is the chairman, then the Cabinet will have to accept the recommendations. There will be no difference in powers of the chairman and the co-chairman.” He rejected a charge that he was blackmailing the government through hunger strike and said his approach was that if the government does not listen to people, they will throw it out.
 
Hazare’s demands is “impossible”: Cong

New Delhi, April 8 (PTI):
As the standoff between Government and Anna Hazare continued on Lokpal Bill, Congress today blamed the “obstinate and intransigent” attitude of the social activist’s supporters for the impasse despite the administration going the “extra mile” to address their concerns. “The ball is in their court....We have agreed with every substantial demand...Absolutely no substantial or real issues remains to be resolved...Are not some of the members of the civil society being obstinate and intransigent?,” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.
Singhvi, a senior advocate, made a spirited defence of the government, telling the supporters of Hazare that “we cannot lose sense of balance. We are a government by constitution. Jingoistic and populist slogans cannot take place of substance.” Putting the onus on Hazare’s associates for his health condition, Singhvi suggested that the impasse arose due to demands by the supporters of Hazare that the Chairman of the Joint Committee for drafting the Lokpal bill should be from civil society and that government should notify the committee.
“Is it possible for an extremely senior minister to sit on a committee under someone else’s chairmanship or headed by any member from civil society. Will the society members pilot the bill in Parliament?  “We must realize that we are part of a constitutional governance, where the responsibility for any legislations lays squarely on the government and the Council of Ministers,” Singhvi said, accusing Hazare’s supporters of delaying the process of setting up the committee on “procedural matters“. The AICC’s sharp criticism of Hazare’s supporters came close on the heels of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi holding consultations after the Gandhian threatened a Jail Bharo from April 13. 
 
Corruption, not bill rallying point
 
NEW DELHI, April 8 (TNN): The milling crowd at Jantar Mantar — in support of social activist Anna Hazare’s indefinite fast for pushing through an anti-corruption ombudsman Bill — is clueless about the fine print. Few could distinguish between Lokpal Bill and Jan Lokpal Bill. For the uninitiated, the former enjoys the government’s sanction, the latter is a brainchild of the anti-corruption lobby — a motley crew from all walks of life. Be that as it may, the public seems to have little time or inclination to discern between the two.
Pointed out about the difference , Kriti Malhotra, a political science (Hons.) student from Lady Shri Ram College, asked in disbelief, “Is there one?” She, however, refused to rack her brain to figure out the nuances. Pranab, a student Tata Institute of Social Sciences who has come all the way from Mumbai, too, was clueless. Sporting a “Free Binyak Sen” badge, he said candidly that Jan Lokpal Bill means “little” to him. His priorities are clear. “I’m here to fight corruption. But, I’m not very clear about the differences in the government and Hazare’s versions,” he said. Accompanied by a teacher, students from the city’s Bluebells International had come to the protest hotspot to “get a sense of the big movement”. Dipin Kaur, a student of Bluebells International, explained the purpose of their visit. ‘We’re with anybody, who is carrying out a campaign against corruption. We’ve come to find out more about Jan Lokpal Bill,” she said.
Social activist Swami Agnivesh’s speech shed light on the fate of the movement. The peacenik briefed the crowd about the government acceding to three of the five-point demand put forth by the anticorruption crusaders. Buoyed, the gathering felt that Hazare’s three-day-old fast could get over soon, but an overwhelming majority wanted the anti-graft battle to continue. The growing public mood was that politicians — cutting across party lines — should get a sense of aam aadmi’s outrage and tackle corruption.