Within days of reaching an agreement over the formation of a joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill, the government and social activist Anna Hazare are involved in a verbal duel. Union minister Kapil Sibal not only questioned the scope of the bill in tackling corruption, but also refused to give in to Hazare’s demand to make the deliberations of the drafting committee public. Hazare, in return, questioned why Sibal was on the panel if he did not believe in the Bill.
“If you (Sibal) believe that nothing will happen, you should not be there in the joint committee. He should resign and do other things for the country,” Hazare said. Sibal on Sunday had said the Lokpal Bill won’t solve the problems of the people. He stuck to his stand while talking to reporters on Monday.
“The scope of the Lokpal Bill is different, people’s problems are
different. If you want to give your children an education, it has no relationship with [the scope of] the Lokpal Bill. If you don’t get water, it has nothing to do with [the scope of] the Lokpal Bill,” Sibal said. He, however, said that he was with Hazare and would bring out an effective bill.
Hazare’s colleagues, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, slammed Sibal for his remarks. “He should not have made sweeping statements on the bill. It raises doubts about the seriousness of the government in bringing in the legislation,” Kejriwal said. Added Bedi: “If he has no faith, it is better for him to withdraw from the committee.”
Sibal also said the decision to make the deliberations of the committee public cannot be taken by a few members. “The agreement is that all the procedures will be decided by the committee,” Sibal pointed out. Water resources minister Salman Khurshid and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee echoed Sibal’s views.
When asked why the opposition was not part of the panel, Sibal said they can give their inputs when the bill is tabled before Parliament during the monsoon session in July.