Anna Hazare is like 'Pied Piper of Hamelin': Sibal

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member
New Delhi: Government on Saturday made clear its opposition to bringing the post of Prime Minister under the purview of Lokpal till he demits office and ruled out opening the conduct of MPs inside Parliament as also the higher judiciary to scrutiny of the proposed ombudsman.

"Within the government, we feel prima facie, the Prime Minister should not be covered (under the Lokpal). But at the same time we want to make sure that if he demits office, he should not be exonerated from prosecution," said HRD minister Sibal who is part of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal.

However, he said, the five ministers in the joint committee were willing to be persuaded to bring the Prime Minister under the ambit of the anti-corruption legislation if the civil society side gives a "compelling argument".

Contending that it was not the question of "an individual, Manmohan Singh" but "an institution", he said on a TV channel, "Which Prime Minister in office anywhere in the world has been prosecuted in the world? Please tell me, please give me an example."

The government is also "clear" that the conduct of MPs inside Parliament should not come under the Lokpal, he said.

"What happens inside the House, the speaker and the House should deal with it...and not the Lokpal. We can have a mechanism within the House where sanction can be given for investigation once the Ethics Committee concludes that there is a criminal offence," he argued.

He said the government was against bringing higher judiciary under Lokpal's ambit but open to look into civil society's suggestions on corruption there in the Judicial Accountability Bill "if they are acceptable to the government".

Speaking two days ahead of the last meeting of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee, Sibal was of the view that the proposed legislation should deal with corruption cases at higher level, otherwise covering 40 lakh odd central government employees would require a massive infrastructure independent of government.

At the same time, he said the government was flexible on the issue of inclusion of officials below joint secretary level under the Lokpal.

He was also not in favour of bringing CBI and CVC under Lokpal saying, "unnecessarily there is no need to destroy CBI (or CVC)" while having a separate investigation wing for the ombudsman.

Asked about the fast announced by Anna Hazare from August 16, he said the government will see to any step that the civil society activists take "outside drafting" the bill.

He said people rallied behind Hazare during his protest in April as they were upset with corruption but claimed most of them do not know what is Lokpal Bill.

"Anna Hazare is like the 'Pied Piper of Hamelin'. The tune is lilting and people were upset with corruption just as government is. We want to deal with it. But those who follow him, where they say corruption should be deal with, do not know what the Lokpal Bill is," he said.

Taking a dig at the Gandhian, he said, "If Anna Hazare had been in the Constituent Assembly, there would be no Constitution."

He said fasting was a way of self purification and is "not meant to be an act of aggression. I think a lot of people including Hazare have misunderstood the meaning of fasting."