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No cracks of disunity in Hazare team: Prashant Bhushan

August 20, 2011 - New Delhi

Noted lawyer and civil rights activist Prashan Bhushan has rubbished rumors of there being differences or feelings of disunity between members of the Hazare team who are leading the nation-wide anti-graft protest against the government.

"Our position is very clear, while we are not willing to compromise on corruption, we are willing to discuss with anybody if anybody is able to suggest anything which will be able to effectively deal with corruption or more effectively deal with corruption than the exact formulation of the Jan Lokpal Bill we would be happy to discuss and consider it, but where is the point of compromising with corruption that is what Arvind was pointing at," said Bhushan.

Hazare told media on Friday: "The government is in majority at the Standing Committee and Indian Parliament; it is up to them to think how to go about things. My fast will not end until the Jan Lokpal (anti corruption, Ombudsman) Bill is passed in the parliament."

Echoing similar thoughts, Right to Information activist and key associate of Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal slammed the government saying that it trying to protect its own corrupt people and hence delaying the bill.

"The government is using the parliament and standing committee as its shield to hide its corruption. The bill is there before the Standing Committee, which we can approach but our demand is that the government should withdraw its version of the Ombudsman Bill and present the Jan Lokpal Bill in the parliament or present an amendment in its bill which incorporates the pointers of the Jan Lokpal Bill," said Kejriwal.

Fumbling as support for the anti-corruption crusader surged across the country, the government first jailed Hazare on Tuesday, then ordered his release and finally, when he refused to leave, then granted Hazare permission to stage his fast for 15 days.

The protests across cities in India, fanned by social networks, have not only rocked the ruling Congress Party, they have sent shockwaves through the political class as a whole.

Students, lawyers, teachers, executives and civil servants came out to streets in cities and remote villages stretching to the southern end of the country.

Hazare became the unlikely thorn in the side of the government when he went on hunger strike in April. He called off that fast after the government promised to introduce a bill creating an anti-corruption ombudsman.

Hazare"s exit was broadcast live across India as thousands of supporters thronged outside the jail in a deafening roar of celebration.

Many supporters had been there overnight and some had offered prayers to the Hindu gods. Others chanted, "The whole country is Anna".

After months of debate, the Ombudsman bill, which intends to create a national anti-corruption watchdog, was tabled in the Lok Sabha on August 4, but was rejected by civil society activists as being weak.

A string of corruption scandals has shaken India in recent months, smothering Singh"s reform agenda, denting investor confidence and distracting parliament at a time when the economy is hit by inflation and higher interest rates.


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