The government yesterday said that it expects to introduce the Lokpal Bill in Parliament soon, but added that a lot of work remains to be done, mainly because of a lack of consensus among different parties on some parts of the bill.
Gandhian Anna Hazare has, however, given the government an ultimatum. He has said that if an effective anti-corruption Lokpal Bill is not passed before the Winter Session of Parliament ends on December 22, he will begin an indefinite fast on December 27, will ask people to participate in a jail bharo movement from January 1 and commission demonstrations outside the home of any MP who voted against the bill, or tried to dilute it.
But speaking NDTV on the show Left, Right and Centre last night, Anna’s close aide Kiran Bedi has indicated that “if Anna sees Parliament engaged on the Lokpal Bill, he will be willing to wait.” “If Anna sees Parliament is engaged in drafting the Lokpal Bill, why will he go and sit on a fast on December 27? Why will we do a jail bharo from January 1? If Anna sees the Parliament engaged, he would love to facilitate the engagement,” she said.
Ms Bedi added, “We will wait till that last day. I am sure Anna would do that.”
Here’s the transcript of what Ms Bedi told NDTV:
NDTV: Let’s look at the timeline. If you look at it practically, there are just a few working days left. The last day is the 22nd. Now on Sunday, the Cabinet meets and they will probably be able to introduce the bill before the 22nd but they may not be able to pass it before the 22nd. They are looking at extending the session by a day, may be after Xmas, or even reconvene in January. So since Anna has announced this agitation on the 1st of January, can’t that be put off by say a week or so?
Kiran Bedi: If Anna sees Parliament engaged in drafting the bill, why would Anna sit on a fast on December 27? Why would we do a jail bharo from January 1?
NDTV: So it’s not inflexible?
Kiran Bedi: Absolutely. If Anna sees Parliament engaged, Anna would love to facilitate the engagement. Because that’s wonderful…because that’s a tribute…that’s gratitude. Please stay engaged and give us what people are asking for. We will wait till that last day. I am sure Anna would do that.
NDTV: So you have said two important things – that the CBI is a make or break issue and that you are willing to be flexible even on the jail bharo and plan if you see that the bill is tabled and there is a clear intent to discuss it, take it up and vote on it even if it’s in the new year, the agitation could be put off?
Kiran Bedi: If Anna sees them engaged, Anna would love to wait.