Anna Hazare vows new protests over Lokpal bill:
Anna Hazare, who stoked public anger at India’s scandal-prone leaders this year, threatened on Thursday to renew protests at what he sees as watering down of the Lokpal bill, a move that could blight the government’s New Year election drive.
Hazare, 74, said he will gather supporters to picket the homes of ruling party leaders Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, and aims to get arrested to highlight demands for a powerful, graft-fighting ombudsman, the Lokpal.
Hazare’s anti-corruption agenda has kept Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the ropes since January, impacting the pace of economic reform in Asia’s third largest economy as it battles high inflation and slowing economic growth.
“Sonia Gandhi says the bill is strong. If it is so, let her come out and debate with us in front of media,” Hazare told reporters in his home village. “Convince the people of the country that it is strong. We will explain how it is not strong.”
The government presented the bill to create the new ombudsman on Thursday in Parliament, but disruption by opposition parties over details slowed proceedings. Hazare’s team wants the bill redrafted to make the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) an arm of the new watchdog.
The push for the bill follows a series of corruption cases in the past two years highlighted by the 2G spectrum scandal.