New Delhi: In a fresh overture to break the deadlock between the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and anti-graft activist Anna Hazare, who has been leading a campaign against corruption, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government was open to debate on all the issues.
“We have made it clear that all concerned individuals should convey their concern on different aspects of the Bill to their representatives in Parliament and to the standing committee,” Singh said at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Kolkata on Monday morning. “The standing committee has the power to propose any amendment. We are open to a reasoned debate on all these issues. But it will not solve the problem. It needs to be supported by improvements in the pace and quality of judicial processes.”
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The government has introduced the Lokpal (ombudsman) bill earlier this month and the legislation is currently with the Parliamentary standing committee. The Prime Minister on Saturday said there was “a lot of scope for give and take” over a proposed anti-corruption Bill that Hazare’s campaign wants replaced with their own version.
Hazare, however, continued his fast and held a public rally in the national capital that have triggered anti-graft protests across the country over the weekend.
Singh’s administration, which has been under fire for its failure in handling corruption charges against its leaders and nearly double digit inflation, is under pressure to end the impasse following the arrest of Hazare on Tuesday morning, the day he had declared to begin his fast. Although he was released on the same day, Hazare stayed in Tihar jail till Friday.
Pointing out that the government must address the “complex challenges of combating governance failures,” Singh said “there are some who argue that corruption is the consequence of economic liberalization and reforms. This is of course completely mistaken.”
“But corruption has not disappeared from the system. It surfaces in many forms,” the Prime Minister admitted. “We cannot ignore this problem. Corruption not only weakens the moral fibre of our country, it also promotes inefficiency and cronyism which undermine the social legitimacy of market economics. It also creates a trust deficit which ultimately weakens our ability to act unitedly,” he said.
Singh said the existing government procedures need to be “thoroughly revamped” to “reduce discretion and to make the basis of decision making as transparent as possible.”