Anna Hazare, Rahul Gandhi exchange letters on Lokpal

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Anna Hazare
Indian social activist Anna Hazare.Photo by Shailendra Pandey

New Delhi/ Ralegan Siddhi, Dec 17 (PTI) : Appearing to soften his stand against the Congress on the Lokpal issue, Anna Hazare has written to Rahul Gandhi praising his “commitment” to the anti-graft bill and the Congress leader responded by saying he was “very grateful” for the Gandhian’s support and respected his role on the issue.

The letters by Hazare and Gandhi were released by the AICC today on a day the Bill was slated to come up for consideration and passage in the Rajya Sabha.

In his letter to Gandhi on Sunday, Hazare, who has been critical of the way the Congress and the Centre has handled the Lokpal Bill, said, “I welcome your commitment towards passing the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill in Parliament. My request is that the points which have been endorsed and recommended by the select committee on the bill are included in it.

“These points have been decided with consensus by all political parties who were part of the select committee,” added Hazare.

Hazare also said if Parliament makes an effort to give more teeth to this law by incorporating from more effective things other than the recommendations of the select committee, it will be in the interest of the people.

“People of the country are waiting for a competent Lokpal,” Hazare said in the letter, copies of which have also been marked to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy and the Chairman of the select committee of Rajya Sabha which went in to the Lokpal issue.

Rahul replied to Hazare on Monday thanking him for his letter.

Addressing the Gandhian as “dear” Anna Hazare, Rahul said the letter has given him “great encouragement.”

“All of us are committed to provide people of this country a competent and strongest possible Lokpal system. We respect your role in this task and we are very grateful to you for your support,” Gandhi said in his letter.

Welcoming the development, AICC communication department chairman Ajay Maken said, “Rahulji has said in his letter that he respects the role palyed by Hazareji to bring in Lokpal issue. He is in constant touch with ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and other ministries in this regard so that this bill can be smoothly and very soon passed in Parliament.”
“We thank Annaji for his appreciation as we all know Rahulji has always been committed to fight against corruption in the system.

“RTI is one of many such steps which have been taken in this direction as Rahulji himself has said in Sunday’s press conference that RTI is a basic framework to fight against corruption and in this basic framework there are different blocks and Janlokpal Bill is one of such blocks,” said Maken.

Kamal Nath, who met Rahul at his residence today, said, “I hope that it will be passed today in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha as soon as possible, perhaps tomorrow. We have tried to persuade Samajwadi Party and I am hopeful that they will reconsider their opposition. We will be able to pass the bill by consensus.”

Senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said his party will fully cooperate in passage of Lokpal Bill. He, however, at the same time, took potshots at Rahul, saying that the Congress leader always belatedly tried to take credit.

“We want the bill to be passed – to be passed with discussion. It is the obligation of Congress to properly ensure that Samajwadi Party does not oppose, if it can manage SP for nine and half years to remain in power. We are also willing to pass it without discussion if the need arises because BJP is committed to pass the bill as approved by the select committee. Country wants the bill to be passed,” he said.

“Rahul has been taking a charge of lot of things including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, we have seen what has happened. Therefore, belated attempts to take credit have been a part of Rahul Gandhi and he has failed always,” said Prasad.

AAP leader Prashant Bhushan expressed dismay at Hazare’s support for Lokpal Bill.

“The Bill was in cold storage for two years and it was a weak bill. They took it out suddenly and all parties gave their accent to the bill, even said that they would pass the bill without discussion.

“The bill is so inefficient that Lokpal does not have independence or even a probe agency of its own. I don’t know who are the people making Anna understand,” said Bhushan.

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