Government calls all party meet as Anna vows to fast (Roundup)

June 22nd, 2011 - 10:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) The government will convene an all-party meet July 3 to discuss the two versions of the Lokpal bill, even as Gandhian Anna Hazare Wednesday slammed the UPA government for not being serious about tackling corruption and reiterated he would go on another hunger strike Aug 16 over the issue.

Undeterred by Hazare’s call, the Congress warned him not to fast again else he may get the “same treatment” as yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who along with his supporters had to face a police crackdown in New Delhi.

But Hazare hit back, saying that he was “ready” for “everything” - even batons.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had on Tuesday decided to hold discussions with all political parties on the draft of the bill - a move taken after civil society members, headed by Hazare, and government met for the last time.

The two sides submitted their versions of the draft, which are to be given to the cabinet which will approve a final version. The two sides failed to arrive at a consensus over the draft bill provisions.

Dates for the all-party political meet was disclosed Wednesday, government sources said. In this meeting, sources told IANS, the draft bill and notes on the disagreements expressed by the joint drafting committee - the government and civil society representatives - will be circulated.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is chairman of the committee, is likely to preside over the meeting.

Slamming the claim that the civil society’s proposed ombudsman will be a virtual parallel government, veteran Gandhian Anna Hazare accused the government of trying to mislead the people.

“We have an Election Commission and the government can’t interfere in its function. We have the Supreme Court and the Right to Information (RTI) Act which they cannot interfere in,” Hazare said here.

“Just like them, the Lokpal should also be beyond government’s interference,” he said, adding the government’s claims were an attempt to “mislead the people”.

After Tuesday’s last meeting between them, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal had said that while the government wanted a strong Lokpal, “we cannot have a parallel government”.

“The government is trying to create misunderstanding in the minds of the people before our fast”, Hazare said, and likened it to a “second struggle for freedom”.

Hazare said it was also important to bring the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under the Lokpal to uproot corruption in the country.

“The CBI has investigated so many corruption cases but how many ministers have gone to jail since independence? This is because the government has full control over the CBI. That is why despite corruption ministers don’t go to jail,” Hazare said.

Hazare has vowed to launch a hunger strike from Aug 16 at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital.

It was after his first fast, which lasted five days and triggered widespread support in the country, that the government set up a 10-member panel to frame an effective Lokpal bill.

However, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh warned Hazare not to fast again else he may get the “same treatment” as yoga guru Baba Ramdev got recently.

“Anna saheb says he will again sit on fast. If he does so, he may get the same treatment as the other (Baba Ramdev) got recently.”

The police had cracked down on Ramdev and his supporters in New Delhi’s Ramlila Ground June 4, causing injury to several people. Ramdev was forced to continue his fast against corruption in Haridwar.

Singh also questioned the Bharatiya Janata Party’s supporting the corruption issue raised by civil society members.

“I want to ask BJP, they remained in power for six years. Did they make a single law against corruption?”

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