Hazare slams government for 'betraying' people

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) Activist Anna Hazare slammed the government Friday for "betraying the people" on Jan Lokpal, saying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had failed to keep his word.

"The battle for Jan Lokpal has been on for two years. The government has been repeatedly betraying the people of this country," he said, and threatened to go on an indefinite fast.

"The cabinet has taken the decision of forming Jan Lokpal and Lokayukta in every state. If it has to be created by the states, then why did the prime minister write to us that the central government was ready to establish Lokayukta in states? He did not keep his word," Hazare told a press conference here.

The cabinet Thursday delinked the Lokpal from Lokayuktas -- or anti-graft ombudsmen -- in states as it gave its nod to the Lokpal bill amendments.

"We first protested at Jantar Mantar (in New Delhi) demanding that a joint committee be constituted to make a draft on Jan Lokpal, but the government refused. Then I wrote to the prime minister. The government then issued a gazette and formed a committee which did not meet for three months," he said.

"The joint committee had five ministers and five of our people and had decided on a draft. But the government did a U-turn," Hazare said.

He also said that their draft was never presented in parliament, the cabinet or standing committee.

The BJP and social activists, including Hazare, have slammed the proposed law saying it was not enough to curb corruption.

"We wanted Class 1, 2, 3 and 4 officers to be under its purview. The government agreed to it but now it says these officers will not be under Jan Lokpal. What is the meaning of the Jan Lokpal bill," Hazare said.

He also criticised the government for not including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in its purview.

"The CBI and CVC should be autonomous. While they are under government control, you cannot end corruption. Now they say even the CBI will not be under the Lokpal. This government lies a lot. What will happen to a country whose government lies so much," Hazare said.

"I will travel across the country for a year-and-a-half for Jan Lokpal. (Retired army chief) Gen V.K. Singh will travel with me," he said.

"I wrote to (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi that power is not poison but an addiction. I have no enmity with the government. If the government brings a strong Lokpal, I will congratulate it. But if nothing happens, then I may go back to Ramlila Maidan and ask people to elect people who will give laws that empower you," he said.

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