Hazare sticks to 30 Aug deadline for passage of Lokpal Bill

Hazare sticks to 30 Aug deadline for passage of Lokpal Bill

New Delhi: Anna Hazare on Tuesday stuck to his 30 August deadline for passage of Jan Lokpal Bill and asked his supporters to intensify the protest by gheraoing the houses of Parliamentarians if government failed to do so.

Addressing his supporters after nearly a break of 40 hours, Hazare, who entered the second week of his fast, accused government of betraying all along the civil society on the issue of a strong Lokpal Bill.

Hazare told the gathering at Ramlila Maidan that protesters in thousands should protest outside the residences of MPs if the government fails to get Jan Lokpal Bill passed by 20 August.

“Now, 25-30 people are sitting on dharnas in front of MPs’ residences. If the government does not pass the bill by 30 August, we have to intensify the protest. Protesters in thousands should gherao the residences of MPs then," he said.

Alleging that a few people in the government were “betraying" them, he said, “They betrayed us during the meetings of Joint Committee (on Lokpal bill).

“I feel there are only 5-6 people in the government who are running the country and if such people, who do not have a social or national perspective, run the nation, then what will happen to this country...This is something to worry about," Hazare said.

“Even if Lokpal comes and if such traitors run the country, what will happen. This is the question which is bothering me," the 73-year-old Gandhian said.

He said he was watching for the past four months after the government set up the Joint Committee for drafting Lokpal bill. “Even there some people in the government were traitors, they tried to betray us," he said.

The remarks came amidst indications from both government and Team Anna about willingness to have talks on the issue with the civil society members demanding nomination of an official representative for the purpose. They have suggested that government either withdraw the official bill or amend it by including provisions of the Jan Lokpal Bill.

“Let the government mandate somebody officially. We are waiting for a political dialogue. Today there is need for a political dialogue. It is not a technical issue. It is not a bureaucratic issue. It is a political problem," Hazare’s close aide, Arvind Kejriwal said .

“There has to be a political solution rather than saying go and make your case to the Standing Committee. That is not the way," he said

He said officially they have not got any proposal from government.

Asked about various proposals being talked about, Kejriwal said, “There are two options. The government can withdraw its bill and introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill or the government can bring amendments to the existing bill. The government should make a list on the points it agrees or disagrees on".

However, Kejriwal said Hazare has not insisted that he will talk only with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Team Anna is maintaining that no formal talks have begun even as close aides of spiritual leader Bhayyuji Maharaj handed over a fresh 11-point proposal to Hazare late in the night. However, they could not meet the Gandhian as he was sleeping.

Kejriwal said government should look into the 22 points on which there are disagreements and say which ones are acceptable