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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Didn't say Anna was ill advised: Aruna Roy

New Delhi: Social activist Aruna Roy, a member of the National Action Council (NAC) and the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI), on Sunday denied having said that Anna Hazare was being ill advised. She said that a newspaper report had twisted her words.

"I did not say that Anna Hazare was being ill advised. It was what a newspaper reported. Newspapers have said many things, the media twists our words, misrepresents us, calls me an NAC member when I speak as a NCPRI member. You can say what you like but I did not say that," she told CNN-IBN in an exclusive interview.

Roy said that she submitted her version of the Lokpal bill to the Parliament's Standing Committee as a member o f the NCPRI and not as a member of the NAC as the latter is not even associated with the Lokpal Bill.
"The NAC is not connected nor associated with the Lokpal Bill. What I am saying concerns my campaign and my campaign, as a member of the NCPRI, has been drafting legislations for the last many years relating to corruption and accountability structure," Roy said.

She also said that her version was different from the Jan Lokpal Bill, as it suggests five institutions to fight corruption. She added that it was not feasible to have one huge organisation, as suggested by Team Anna.
"What we have proposed is that instead of one institution that the Jan Lokpal has proposed, we have said that there should be 5 institutions because its administratively not feasible to have one huge organisation. Also because there is a problem with accountability structure between various institutions that have been suggested. Both the Jan Lokpal Bill and the presentation of ours, which we call a 'Basket of Anti-Corruption Measures', covers everybody. However unlike the Jan Lokpal Bill, we don't leave out Judiciary, we don't leave out the Prime Minister, no body. Higher and lower bureaucracy is also covered," said Roy.

Roy said that she wrote to the Joint Drafting Committee with formulations and suggestions for the Lokpal. She added that Pranab Mukherjee and Shanti Bhushan had said they would call her for the meetings but never did.

She said that on July 6, she and her team presented their version of the bill in the public domain for discussion and after that they sent it to the Standing Committee.

On being asked if she would accept Arvind Kejriwal's offer to go to Ramlila Maidan and debate on both versions of the bill, she said that it was okay to discuss things in the pre-legislative phase but once a draft goes into Parliament it is better to suggest ideas and formulations to the Standing Committee.
"There is a danger in discussing things out of the parliament, as tomorrow there can be a huge mobilisation of any kind of extremist group, they can demand anything, nothing will take place in parliament and it will all happen outside," she said.

"We can have a discussion, pre-legislative discussions can be held outside, yes I agree with that. But once its goes into Parliament, I think, we must absolutely fight the Parliament. If people start taking fundamental parliamentary rights then I think its a danger not for the government, as the government can go today. But what about us? Every time we have tampered with Constitutional rights, this country has suffered. We only have to think of what happened during Emergency and subsequently," she added.

Roy said that the Right to Information Act was amended 153 times when it was with the Standing Committee as the government draft was very weak. So, instead of discussing things outside, she said it will be better to go to the Standing Committee with suggestions.


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