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India’s anti-corruption bill: all eyes on the Council of States
Publication Date : 16-12-2013
Even as the Congress and Indian’s opposition party BJP are fighting to be seen as the backers of the Lokpal Bill, the nascent Aam Aadmi Party of Arvind Kejriwal outright rejected the proposed changed draft bill set to be passed by the Rajya Sabha, or the Council of States - the upper house of the Parliament of India.
The Jan Lokpal Bill, also referred to as the Citizen's Ombudsman Bill, is an anti-corruption bill drafted and drawn up by civil society activists in India seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body to investigate corruption cases.
However, Anna Hazare spoke in favour of the new draft bill while Team Anna member Kiran Bedi charged Kejriwal with trying to keep the Lokpal issue alive.
“Forget about any minister, not even a mouse will go to jail if this bill is enacted. I can assure you that there would not be a single conviction with this Lokpal in next 10 years. I pondered over who will gain from this Lokpal Bill,” the AAP president Kejriwal, a former associate of Anna Hazare, told reporters here.
However, Anna Hazare, whose stir in 2011 created political ripples, today brushed aside Kejriwal's contention that the Lokpal Bill under consideration in Parliament was weak. “If anyone feels there are shortcomings in the Bill after it is passed, they should fast for it. I have read the provisions of the Bill properly. If you (Kejriwal) think the Bill has any shortcomings, fast for it,” said Hazare at Ralegan Siddhi where his fast for passage of a strong Lokpal Bill entered the sixth day today.
Kejriwal said in Delhi that only the Congress party stands to gain by the ‘sarkari (government-controlled)’ Lokpal Bill, adding that in the process only Rahul Gandhi “will get some credit for its passage”.
“An independent and unbiased investigation is not possible if we go by the government Lokpal," Kejriwal said adding he was saddened by Anna Hazare's support to the new draft Bill by the government. Kiran Bedi, Team Anna member, and a former associate of Kejriwal, also said that contrary to the assertions of the AAP leader, new draft seems to be satisfactory. “Lokpal is certainly not a Jokepal! Those who term it this way perhaps want to keep the issue alive and not want it get started against corruption”, she tweeted.
While the BJP largely agrees with the AAP stand that no autonomy for CBI was a major lacuna, the party's floor leader in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley said his party is willing to pass the Bill even without discussion if there's a din in the House.