Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Anna: Corruption more serious threat than Pakistan

Terming corruption a threat “more serious than Pakistan”, social activist Anna Hazare demanded that the corporate sector, too, be brought under the purview of the forthcoming anti-corruption ombudsman, the lokal. The suggestion to include the corporate sector is new. It’s a reaction to the government side’s move in the second draft to include non-government organisations (NGOs) in the purview of the lokpal.

“By bringing in voluntary organisations under the lokpal, the government is trying to target movements. Such organisations have done much more than the government has,” Hazare said. Rejecting the draft legislation as a betrayal, Hazare said he would restart his fast from August 16, and it would be non-negotiable this time. “The second freedom struggle is beginning.” 

He said, “There will be no talks, no negotiations. The government must accept our proposals in entirety. Otherwise, I will fast unto death. I am willing to die for the country.” Campaigner Arvind Kejriwal said the government draft did not suggest an autonomous and transparent lokpal.

“The government is trying to control appointments, removal and functioning of the lokpal … We demanded financial autonomy for the lokpal, but it will depend on the government for everything. How will it be autonomous or independent?”

Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, another campaigner, said some “intelligent and informed civil society activists” also must be made part of the lokpal selection process.

Hazare refuted the allegation that the lokpal, as proposed by his team, would amount to creating a parallel and police state, since one of the Hazare team’s demands was sweeping powers for lokpal officials to listen in to any phone conversation that they want to and search and seize documents.

“There is an election commission, there is a judiciary and there is a comptroller and auditor general. Does any one of them make for a parallel state?” he asked.

On the charge that the proposal to allow the lokpal to discipline government officials would make them unaccountable to the government, Hazare said, “That is what we want.

The alliance between politicians and officials is the root cause of corruption. We want a lokpal that would break that nexus.”

On the accountability of the lokapl as envisaged by the activists, Kejriwal said, “It is accountable to the ordinary citizen. Anyone can file a complaint against the lokpal.”

Hazare said he had withdrawn his fast in April after the government promised to accept all the demands. “But they betrayed me. Therefore, now there will be no negotiations. We will mobilise people across the country and force the government to concede to our demands,” he said.