Mumbai: The agitation to demand a strong Lokpal is not aimed against any individual or party, anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Tuesday said.
“This agitation is not against any individual or party. The common man is finding it impossible to live without encountering corruption. Corruption has increased and has led to inflation and price rise. Corruption is the root cause of inflation,” he said.
“Corruption may not end altogether but we can curb it by at least 80 to 90%,” he said at a meet-the-press programme organized by Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh.
The Gandhian recalled that it was on 9 August, when he went on a fast here to seek the Right to Information Act in Maharashtra.
“We think this fight against corruption is the second battle for independence. Lakhs of people sacrificed their lives to force British out of the country. But in last 65 years, there has been no change.
“Scams like 2G spectrum allocation scam and Suresh Kalmadi’s CWG scam were unearthed due to RTI Act. But that Act does not have the power to send culprits to jail. The Jan Lokpal bill has that power. That is why we have been asking the government to enact this legislation,” Hazare said.
He favoured strong punishment to deter the corrupt. “Why not provide for life term? In fact, we are saying that the corrupt should be hanged,” he said.
“There should be a provision to recover the amount involved in corruption. Merely sending the guilty person to jail won’t suffice. The money should be recovered from the person,” he said.
Those in the government lack the will to create a corruption-free India, Hazare said.
“We are saying bring in the Jan Lokpal. Give it autonomy. It should be free from any government control. But the government says it does not want such a strict legislation,” he said.
“This is because the government is run on the basis of corruption. There is a nexus between people’s representatives and staff involved in corruption. Our demand is to bring all offices under Lokpal,” he said.
Lokpal should probe corruption complaints, Hazare said.
“At the state level, the government should not meddle with the (institution of) Lokayukta. What we are seeking is not beyond Constitution. We are not seeking to run a parallel government,” he said.
“How many IAS, IPS officers and how many ministers have been jailed? The reason is that CBI is under the government. Remove CBI from the government (control). “An income tax officer can probe anyone, even the Prime Minister. Why is it not done,” he asked.
“When an MP asks for money to raise questions in Lok Sabha, what will happen to this country,” Hazare said.
The social activist suggested that boards should be put up outside offices to indicate that office’s social responsibility.
On the spiralling government expenditure, he said 75% of people’s money collected by the government is spent on establishment costs. In the remaining 25%, there is corruption of 15%, he said.