M A I N   N E W S

Anna’s fast unjustified, says Chidambaram
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
Reminding social activist Anna Hazare and his team about fundamentals of democracy and the Parliamentary system of framing laws, the government said Anna’s plan of a fast to protest against the Lokpal Bill at this juncture was “extra-parliamentary and unjustified”.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, when asked how the government viewed Hazare’s proposed agitation - to start from August 16 - at a time when the draft Bill for Lokpal was being deliberated by a standing committee of Parliament, said, “At this stage, an extra-parliamentary protest seems unjustified.”

Chidambaram, a lawyer by profession, explained the stand saying Anna team’s earlier fast, when the Lokpal Bill was not in place, was perhaps right, but not now as a Bill has already been introduced in Parliament and the government has “moved forward” on it.

Just four days before the Anna Hazare’s deadline to start the fast, Chidambaram spoke to mediapersons. He was accompanied by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal.

Anna Hazare and his team met the standing committee yesterday and gave them their opinions. “This Bill is not the final version,” said the Home Minister adding that “the standing committee will receive many suggestions. It will give its recommendations and all parties will have a say during the debate in Parliament. Some of these will have to be incorporated.”

Almost as an advice to Anna, the Home Minister said, “Either you swear by democracy or you negate democracy by saying its my way or the highway”.

Questioned about the referendums being conducted by Anna’s team, Chidambaram said, “There is no provision for an MP to conduct a referendum”. Recently, Anna’s team had conducted such referendums in Chandni Chowk and Amethi constituency and claimed that a whopping majority supported the Jan Lokpal Bill - the version of the Bill proposed by Anna Hazare.

The Home Minister used Kapil Sibal’s earlier phrase to describe claims of 90 per cent support in Rahul Gandhi’s constituency Amethi for the Jan Lokpal Bill saying, “We are surprised that it is not 100 per cent”. Sibal has used the phrase when Anna’s team claimed 85 per cent people in Chandni Chowk favoured the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Reminding that there is also no legal mechanism for a referendum, but interactions with party workers and voters had given an indication that people were satisfied with the government’s initiative on the issue, he said.

People of the country are “reasonably satisfied” with the government moving forward on the Lokpal Bill.

On whether the government will intervene in case Anna Hazare’s health is affected, the Home Minister said, “Certainly if anyone’s life is in danger, the government has not only a duty, but a right to intervene.”

He quickly added that the statement was not specifically for Hazare but a general one.





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