August 6, 2011

Foreign Education Hindering PM's Understanding of India: Anna Hazare

New Delhi: Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and human resource development minister Kapil Sibal, reformer Anna Hazare on Saturday said their "foreign education" was hindering their understanding of the nation. Meanwhile, activists held rallies and burnt copies of the government's Lokpal Bill in the national capital region.

"As they (Manmohan Singh and Sibal) received their education abroad, they have not been able to understand the workings of the country," Hazare told reporters in Jalgaon in Maharashtra.

Hazare is to go on an indefinite fast against the government's version of the Lokpal bill from Aug 16. Slamming the government's Lokpal Bill, Hazare said the government will either have to bring in a reformed version or step down. "All the citizens of this country have awakened and they want a strong Lokpal Bill. So, the government will have to bring in a reformed version of the bill soon or step down," said Hazare.

Hazare had earlier gone on a fast from April 5 to 9, which forced the government to include civil society members in the drafting committee of the bill. The joint-committee, however, was not successful in drafting a bill amicably as differences appeared over several issues. "Hazare will sit on an indefinite hunger strike from Aug 16 at Ramlila Maidan instead of Jantar Mantar. We have already received a no objection certificate (NOC) from Municipal Corporation of Delhi ( MCD)," Aswathi Muralidharan, member of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Parivartan, which is seeking support for the Jan Lokpal bill, told IANS. She also added that the Delhi Police is likely to grant permission to Hazare to sit on his fast at Ramlila ground, instead of Jantar Mantar.

However, Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said: "Nothing has been decided in this regard." Protesting against the bill, activists from the group India Against Corruption (IAC) held a car and bike rally in Ghaziabad, which was led by Lokpal bill joint drafting committee member Arvind Kejriwal.

In the capital, government's copies of the bill were burnt at Jamia Nagar in south Delhi, and Ajmeri Gate and Hauz Qazi chowk areas of old Delhi. The civil society members are opposing the Lokpal Bill presented by the government, calling it a toothless legislation. Among the points of contention are the non-inclusion of prime minister and judiciary under the Lokpal's ambit. The Lokpal Bill was introduced in parliament Thursday amid vehement protests from the opposition. The bill has been sent to a parliamentary standing committee.

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