Rift deepens between Anna, AAP over Lokpal Bill

New Delhi/Ralegan Siddhi (Maharashtra), Dec 15 : The rift between the Aam Aadmi Party led by Arvind Kejriwal and social activist Anna Hazare, who was earlier Kejriwal's mentor, deepened Sunday over the Lokpal Bill.

Hazare said the government should pass the Lokpal Bill in the din, if necessary, and later move amendments. The AAP rejected the legislation under consideration in parliament, saying it was weak and would not prevent corruption, but instead work to "protect the corrupt".

"I would say if some parties are creating a ruckus, pass the bill in the din... so many bills are passed in such a din. If needed, the government can also extend the session," Hazare said at his village Ralegan Siddhi in Maharasthra, where he is continuing his indefinite hunger-strike.

Asked of Arvind Kejriwal's comment that he may not be aware of the provisions of the bill, Hazare said: "I have read the bill, maybe he has not read the bill."

"This Lokpal Bill does not provide for formation of Lokayuktas, there is no provision for whistle-blower protection, and it is not free of the government," AAP member and lawyer Prashant Bhushan told reporters in New Delhi at the Constitution Club.

"What is the point of passing this Lokpal Bill? It will not stop corruption at all," he said, adding it would only "protect the corrupt".

Kejriwal said there was no independence for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from the government. "They are not making CBI independent in this bill. If this happens, even the prime minister may go to jail in 2G or some other scam," he said.

"This bill will be beneficial for the Congress and its vice president Rahul Gandhi will get the credit," he said.

Kejriwal also appealed to Hazare to call off the hunger strike for the bill, saying he (Hazare) was under the influence of some Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party men.

Anna parted ways with Kejriwal last year after the latter formed a politcal party.

The Lokpal Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha and greatly amended by a select committee of the Rajya Sabha, was tabled for debate in the upper house Friday.

The bill, once passed by the house of elders, will be sent back to the Lok Sabha for its approval again. The government has said it is committed to the passage of the bill in this session of parliament, which ends Friday.

--IANS (Posted on 15-12-2013)

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