The meeting yesterday evening between IAC representatives (Anna Hazare, Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Swami Agnivesh, Archbishop Vincent, Dr Kuldip Chikara (Bharat Swabhimaan Nyasa), Darshak Hathi (Art of Living) and PV Rajagopal) and the PM and Law Minister, Veerapan Moily was not very encouraging.
The PM said that the government has no time to consider the issue of corruption till the 13th May due to the ongoing parliament session and the impeding elections in five states. The IAC representatives requested to take immediate action because the country was seething with anger and bleeding with corruption.
After great persuasion, he agreed to bring a Lokpal bill in the monsoon session of parliament. How would the bill be drafted and which bill would it be? He was informed that the gov’t bill was extremely badly drafted. The PM suggested that a subcommittee of “Group of Ministers” (GOM) will be constituted which will have two meetings with representatives of IAC after the 13th of May. The GOM will draft the bill accordingly after the interaction. When he was told that we were not willing to wait so long, he offered to have one symbolic meeting after 25th March when parliament session ends.
When he was requested to set up a joint committee consisting of half members from IAC and half from the government’s side to prepare the draft Lokpal Bill by the 13th May when the elections end, the government simply refused.
In effect, we stand where we were before the meeting. The meeting served no purpose except made the intention of the government clear. Annaji has decided that the whole country desperately needs to act immediately on corruption. He said that it was unfortunate that the govt does not have time to address this burning issue and therefore the movement would continue and intensify. His decision to go on a fast on the 5th April stands as it is.
Annaji (Anna Hazare’s)did so.
Nilesh Joshi followed.
That’s Indian Humanist Party Cricket!
update about 12 hours later, from AlJazeera:
**Veteran Indian social activist has said he will end his four-day hunger strike following an agreement with the federal government to set up a committee to write a tough new anti-public corruption law.**
Sympathetic public protests and fasts were being held in state capitals across the country.
Anger in India with corruption has been growing in the wake of recent scandals, including an investigation into the sale of cellphone spectrum in 2008 that reportedly cost India tens of billions of dollars in lost revenue.
The telecoms minister had to resign and is currently in jail pending a probe into the losses.
Hazare, a Gandhian activist, began his indefinite hunger strike to press his demand for amendments to the Lokpal, or Ombudsman, Bill.
He contends that the legislation in its present form is useless and has drafted a separate Jan Lokpal bill.
On the third day the Indian government said it would begin negotiations with Hazare over his demand that “civil-society activists” be involved in drafting the anti-corruption law.
The Lokpal Bill is awaiting endorsement by a select parliamentary committee.