'Bring PM, CBI and lower bureaucracy under lokpal'

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The Opposition on Sunday spoke in unanimous voice as they urged the government to include the Prime Minister and lower bureaucracy under the ambit of lokpal and asked for more autonomy for CBI.

Among others BJP's Arun Jaitley, Akali Dal's Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and CPI's AB Vardhan

joined the lokpal debate as Anna Hazare sat on a day-long fast at Jantar Mantar protesting against "watered-down" proposals of Parliamentary Standing Committee on the anti-graft measure.

Hazare began his fast at around 10:15am at Jantar Mantar, the protest hotspot in the capital, surrounded by a number of supporters who waved the tricolour, sporadically shouting slogans like Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata ki jai.

"My fast has begun. I will not speak much now," he told his supporters.

Clad in his trade-mark white kurta and Gandhi cap, Hazare was received at the protest venue with a thunderous applause and sloganeering by his supporters who had gathered at the venue braving the morning chill.

Along with Hazare, prominent members of Team Anna like Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh and Kumar Vishwas also joined the fast.

Before heading to Jantar Mantar, Hazare went to Rajghat and spend around 30 minutes meditating there.

"I am fine and healthy," he told reporters.

This is Hazare's third protest on the issue and second at Jantar Mantar.

The first one, which was a five-day fast from April 5 at Jantar Mantar, had drawn huge crowds. The government had then set up a joint committee comprising official representatives and activists to draft the lokpal bill.

The 74-year-old activist, who had gone on his second fast that lasted 13 days at Ramlila Maidan in August on the same issue, has been demanding bringing lower bureaucracy within the ambit of the lokpal besides provisions for Citizen's Charter and setting up of Lokayuktas under a central law. The government as well as Standing Committee have rejected it.

Hazare has also threatened to go on an indefinite fast from December 27 at Ramlila Maidan if a strong lokpal bill is not passed in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.

Hazare has raised his decibel on the issue, accusing Rahul Gandhi for being behind the "watered-down" proposals of Parliamentary Standing Committee on the lokpal bill.

He had alleged yesterday that the government has "cheated" the entire country and that he will campaign against the UPA in five poll-bound states and continue it till the next Lok Sabha elections.

Hazare has also warned the government that if a strong lokpal bill is not passed in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament, he will sit on an indefinite fast from December 27 at Ramlila Maidan.

While he has accused the Standing Committee on lokpal of "fooling" people on the issue, his supporters have questioned its credibility claiming that only 12 of the 30 MPs supported its proposals which will not help in fighting graft.

Addressing the supporters ahead of the commencement of today's fast, activist Kiran Bedi said that people who had gathered there would pray that the government gets "good sense" to make "amends" on the lokpal issue.

"The lokpal does not have investigative powers. The government has given nothing substantial for lokpal and at the same time taken away the powers of CBI. We did not ask for this," she said.

At Jantar Mantar, activists sang, beat drums, waved flags and shouted slogans as people in large numbers joined the gathering.


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