Hazare okay with Lokpal bill

Anti-graft activist Anna Hazare on Sunday reiterated his stand on the Lokpal bill, saying that the version of the Lokpal bill tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Friday meets most of the demands and any shortcomings in the bill could be rectified over time during the process of its implementation.

"I welcome the Lokpal bill created by the government. Most of our demands have been metů, he said, adding, "Government should bring Lokpal Bill in this session only."

Hazare, who has been fasting at the Yadavbaba Temple in his native village of Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district since 10 December, demanded that the government pass the bill in Parliament, at least in its diluted version.

The ageing Gandhian, who is now more conscious of his failing health, however, said, "I won't end my fast till the bill is passed. I do not want to die so soon. I want to live for the country and fight for the country, for the society. I have to fight for many things like the right to reject and right to recall."

Replying to comments by Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal and his supporters that he was surprised as to how Anna had accepted the government's version of the bill, Hazare quipped, "They can say what they want to say. I do not want to say anything about them. Truth always prevails."

He said if anyone has problems with the bill then he should go ahead and protest.

"If Kejriwal and his team find shortcomings in the Lokpal bill, they should protest separately. Let them do what they want to do, we will do what we want to do," he said.

Kejriwal had also said there was no provision for independence of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the bill.

Meanwhile, reacting to Kejriwal's criticism that the Lokpal bill is in fact a `Jokepal bill', former police officer and Hazare's aide Kiran Bedi said Arvind Kejriwal might not have read the Lokpal Bill.

Another AAP leader Prashant Bhushan also had criticised the bill, saying that it would not prevent corruption and has no provision for the formation of Lokayuktas in states.

A select committee of the Rajya Sabha had made some changes in the bill and once the Rajya Sabha passes the bill, it will again be brought to the Lok Sabha for approval.

The Congress and opposition BJP are for passage of the bill while UPA supporters like Samajwadi Party are opposed to the bill.

It remains to be seen if the Rajya Sabha passes the bill.