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Friday, 4 November 2011

Anna to campaign against Congress if Lokpal bill not passed

Social activist Anna Hazare (centre) with his other team members (from left) Kiran Bedi, 
Arvind Kejriwal, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan during a media conference at 
Maharashtra Sadan, in New Delhi on Friday. Mr. Hazare said there was no need to bring 
separate bills on citizens charter as well as on whistle blowers

In a U—turn, Anna Hazare on Friday declared that he will campaign against Congress in five States where Assembly elections are due next year if the UPA government fails to get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed in the Winter Session of Parliament.

“I will ask people what is the benefit of re—electing Congressmen. Let them say whatever they want...I will go and ask them not to vote for Congress (if the Bill is not passed),” Hazare told reporters shortly after breaking his 'vow of silence’ at Rajghat early in the morning.

The 74—year—old activist said he had earlier decided not to take the names of any party in the coming Assembly elections.

“Seeing that the government was taking the issue lightly and cutting the Jan Lokpal into several pieces making it weak”, he said, he decided to change his stand and campaign against Congress.

“We will go to the five poll—bound states after the Winter Session if the bill is not passed. During election time, I myself will tour these states and tell people the intentions of the government was not right,” he said.

UPA trying to "weaken" Lokpal

Mr. Hazare, who questioned the “intentions” of the government in getting the Bill passed, alleged that the UPA was trying to weaken the proposed law by “cutting it into several pieces” as he found fault with separate public grievances redressal and whistle—blowers bills.

But, he said, he will not campaign for BJP as there is no difference between the two.

He said the Centre should follow the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill but what he was seeing was just the opposite.

He said he would felicitate state Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri at a public function.

Mr. Hazare said if the Bill is not passed, he will fast for three days from the last day of Winter Session in Delhi and then will go for a nation—wide tour.

He reminded the Congress that its candidate lost his deposit in Hisar Lok Sabha bypolls due to his team’s campaign against it.

“We did not want to destabilise the government but wanted to send a strong message that till a strong Lokpal Bill is enacted, our agitation will continue,” he said.

Letter to PM

Asked about his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh threatening to relaunch his agitation if the Bill was not passed, he said it was not a “threat” but just a “reminder” to the government about the passage of Bill.

“It was not a threat. All his ministers are indulging in defaming us. I thought they might have forgotten about Lokpal Bill. It was a gentle reminder,” he said.

Accusing the government of trying to “weaken” the Jan Lokpal Bill, Mr. Hazare said that there was no need for bring separate bills on citizens charter as well as on whistle blowers.

“Government’s intention is doubtful...The government is trying to weaken the Jan Lokpal Bill by cutting it into pieces. All these provisions were there in the Jan Lokpal Bill,” he said.

Mr. Hazare said he has no problems in a separate Judicial Accountability Bill but what the government has offered is a “very weak one” which does not mention about corruption in judiciary.

“What is the need for separate laws when everything is being dealt with by Jan Lokpal Bill?” he asked.

Congress vs. BJP

Asked if he will campaign for or against BJP, he said, “I won’t campaign for BJP. There is no difference between BJP and Congress as one is a graduate in corruption while the other has a doctorate,” he said.

Asked about his plans if the government does not pass the bill in the Winter Session, Mr. Hazare said he will hold a one—day dharna in all states he goes and then continue the campaign.

Team Anna

On the allegations against Team Anna members like Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, he said people throw stones at trees which bear fruits. “Let government conduct an investigation. Why are they levelling allegations?” he said.

When asked about Congress leader Digvijay Singh’s allegations against, he said if he comments on him, then he will also have to go to hospital, a pun on his earlier reference that Mr. Singh should be referred to a mental hospital for his remarks against him.

Queried about Prashant Bhushan’s controversial comments on Kashmir, Mr. Hazare said, “that is over. You (media) always need masala.”

On restructuring of the core committee, Mr. Hazare said the committee will be reconstituted by giving representation to people from all religion, region, caste and creed and that people with integrity will be included in it.

He said this will be done after a Constitution is written for the anti—corruption movement.

On allegations against some of the Team Anna members, he said “there could be some drawback but that does not mean corruption.”

Mr. Hazare said his maun—vrat was not against any person or party but in the interest of his own health.


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