Delhi offers to discuss strong anti-corruption bill


Staff member
New Delhi: Signalling the government's willingness to accommodate Team Anna's concerns, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said he was open to discussions on a strong Lokpal Bill even as Anna Hazare vowed to continue his fast till the civil society's version of the Lokpal bill is passed by parliament.

"Our hope is that we can list the cooperation of all thinking segments of Indian public opinion to ensure that the end product is strong and effective Lokpal [Bill], which all sections of our community want today," Singh told journalists after a full meeting of the Planning Commission.

"There are difficulties. There is logic of the legislative process. Certain stages have to be crossed. I hope people will appreciate that [the] dynamics of the legislative process, which takes time sometimes," he said.

The prime minister's comments came as the parliamentary standing committee looking into the Lokpal Bill sought the views of people on the bill through newspaper advertisements.


Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who heads the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice that is looking into the bill, also conveyed the panel's intention to consider all suggestions.

"Consultations related to [the] Lokpal [Bill] are open... It is a serious exercise. We will go clause by clause," Singhvi said.

Hazare, who has lost weight since he began the fast on Tuesday for an omnibus anti-graft bill, said he would continue protesting till the Jan Lokpal bill, drafted by his group, is passed by parliament.

"I have lost 3.5 kilograms over the past four days... but there is nothing to worry... I will not give up... we will keep fighting till we get the Jan Lokpal bill passed," Hazare told his supporters at the Ramlila Ground here yesterday.

Sitting at an elevated platform at the ground where he and his team began have been given permission by Delhi Police to continue their protest from Friday until September 2, Hazare has been drawing massive crowds from across the country.

Hazare urged people on Friday to begin a ‘jail bharo' (filling of the jails) movement if the bill is not passed in parliament by August 30.

Popular support

Hazare's associate Arvind Kejriwal Saturday said they had mass support and were not forcing their ideology on the people.

"The masses are here to express they will not tolerate corruption. If we were forcing our view, you would not have seen this crowd that has gathered," Kejriwal said.

Meanwhile, at the Ramlila Ground, early morning walkers and school students were among the first visitors at the protest site, while the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) workers were busy cleaning the garbage left by the supporters overnight.

Hazare's supporters began the day by forming groups and singing songs, as many volunteers began distributing water, tea and biscuits to supporters.