Sehore (MP): Differences appeared to have cropped up in the civil society over the demand for inclusion of the Prime Minister and higher judiciary in the Lokpal Bill with Baba Ramdev opposing such a move.
The yoga guru, to whom the government deputed the topmost tax official to convince him on the steps taken by government against black money, wondered at a press conference in Sehore how top positions like the Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India could be brought under the ambit of Lokpal.
At the same time, he said that he did not want to go into the controversial issue and involve himself in a public debate on that.
Baba Ramdev, who lent support to Anna Hazare in his campaign against corruption when he went on a fast in Jantar Mantar, however, refused to call off his own fast from June 4 till government conceded all his demands.
Reacting to Baba’s comments, Arvind Kejriwal, one of the members of the joint committee on drafting the Lokpal Bill, said they would try to convince him about inclusion of the Prime Minister in the Lokpal ambit.
He said probably the yoga guru may not be aware of the full implications of the issue and they would try to convince him why it was necessary.
Kejriwal said if the Prime Minister was kept out of the Lokpal, then there could be ten departments under him which would straight away come out of the anti-corruption watchdog.
Then other ministers can also ask the bribe-givers to pass on all the bribes to the Prime Minister who enjoys immunity. “If the Prime Minister becomes corrupt then nothing can be done about it,” he said.
Asked whether those under Hazare’s moment will participate in Ramdev’s hunger strike in Ram Lila Maidan in Delhi, Kejriwal said they have their own programmes around that time and will see what is to be done.
Baba Ramdev stressed that his agitation was “not against any individual party” but against a system that perpetuates corruption.
“There is no question of postponing the Satyagraha as long as we do not reach at any time bound, credible and decisive point of agreement on all our demands.
“This Satyagragh will continue till the government does not accept all our demands related to corruption, black money and an overhaul of the system,” he said while demanding death penalty for the perpetrators of corrution.
He also said that there would be “no damage to national property” during his agitation.
At the same time, he said that a “positive dialogue” is taking place between him and the government and some agreements on certain issues have also been reached.
The yoga guru said that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and CBDT Chairman Sudhir Chandra were in touch with him. “Even today I would like to say that the talks are positive”, he said.
His comments came a day after the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met in the national capital to discuss the issue of black money in view of the yoga guru’s proposed agitation.
The government, after facing the difficult situation created by Anna Hazare’s fast-unto-death last month, is keen to avoid recurrence of such a situation that Ramdev’s fast could create.
Meanwhile, a close associate of Baba Ramdev and General Secretary of Divya Yog Trust at Haridwar said, “Every day, we are receiving calls from people expressing their desire to join the Satyagrah campaign.”
He said the ‘Satyagrah’ under the banner of Bharat Swabhiman Trust will start with a yoga camp in which people will participate “nirahaar” (without eating anything).
The Satyagrah would also be held simultaneously at all state capitals and 600 other districts, he said.
Acharya said Bharat Swabhiman Trust had earlier collected signatures from nearly 15 crore people across the country and submitted them to the President and Prime Minister as part of its campaign.
Nearly 50 lakh people have so far joined the ongoing SMS campaign of the trust indicating that the citizens of the country want to get rid of this social evil as it is eating into their resources, he said.
Referring to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s letter to Baba Ramdev asking him to withdraw his ‘Satyagrah’, Acharya said ‘Satyagrah’ would be withdrawn only when the Centre addresses all the issues.
Meanwhile, President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad Ashok Singhal has also extended his full support to the campaign.