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Pawar quits Lokpal Bill panel over Hazare’s objection

New Delhi: Under attack from social activist Anna Hazare, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has reportedly quit EGoM on the Lokpal Bill.

Pawar had earlier expressed desire to be relieved from all ministerial panels after Hazare had said on Tuesday, “A minister like Sharad Pawar, who is known for possessing large amounts of land in Maharashtra, is heading a committee that will draft the Bill!”

“I will be happy if you relieve me from all GoMs, including that GoM (on corruption),” Pawar said while replying to a query whether he was disturbed by Hazare’s comments that the minister should not be part of the GoM on corruption.

On an indefinite fast in New Delhi since Tuesday, Hazare is pressing for enactment of the Lokpal Bill with stringent measures against corruption.

The seventy-two-year old social activist, supported by eminent persons, including Kiran Bedi, has been demanding that the drafting committee for the Lokpal Bill to tackle corruption should include members of civil society.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, he said, ‘sixty-three years after independence, we still do not have independent and effective anti-corruption systems. Very weak versions of Lokpal Bill were presented in Parliament eight times in last 42 years. Even these weak versions were not passed by Parliament.

This means, left to themselves, the politicians and bureaucrats will never pass any law which subjects them to any kind of objective scrutiny. At a time when the country has witnessed scams of unprecedented scale, the impatience of the entire country is justified. And we call upon you, not to look for precedents, but show courage to take unprecedented steps.’

The ministerial panel on corruption is headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and comprises home minister P Chidambaram, defence minister AK Antony, Railway minister Mamata Banerjee, law minister Veerappa Moily, Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, chemicals and fertiliser minister M K Alagiri and telecommunications minister Kapil Sibal.

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