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Hazare’s demand on Lokpal ‘reasonably correct’: Gadkari

Chennai (PTI): Describing fasting social activist Anna Hazare’s demand for a strong Lokpal Bill as ”reasonably correct,” the BJP on Thursday expressed its ”sympathy” with him, saying that the Congress-led UPA has to understand the unrest against corruption.

“His fast-unto-death is a reaction to the strong reaction against corruption. The UPA has to understand the unrest against corruption in the country,” BJP president Nitin Gadkari told reporters here.

“Our sympathy is there (with him). It is time we need a Lokpal and Lokayukta,” Mr. Gadkari said.

72-year-old Hazare has been on fast-unto-death since Tuesday demanding a strong anti-graft legislation, saying that the proposed Lokpal Bill lacked teeth and demanding that a joint committee comprising representatives of government and civil society should be set up to firm up the bill.

Terming corruption as one of the three key issues holding importance in India’s future, Mr. Gadkari said besides those accused in the recent scandals relating to 2G spectrum allocation and CWG, the Prime Minister himself was “directly or indirectly responsible” as the PMO was part of the approval process in each case.

He said a conference of BJP-ruled states would be held soon to discuss the modalities of using Information Technology in government processes, such as tenders and auctions, to ensure better transparency and reduce corruption. “Our mission is an India free of corruption,” he said.

Among other issues concerning the nation was the black money stashed in foreign tax havens and rising food inflation, Mr. Gadkari said. He demanded that the Centre ratify laws to bring back the money held overseas as it is the people’s money and it should be invested in welfare measures like healthcare and education.

On questions about poll-bound Tamil Nadu where his party is contesting nearly 200 of the 234 seats, he lauded the Election Commission and said it was “taking appropriate measures” on aspects such as preventing use of money to influence voters.

He slammed the ruling DMK, saying it was “corrupt” and claimed that party leader and former Telecom Minister A Raja was not the lone beneficiary in the spectrum scam as “all those persons who had guided him” also benefited from it.

On the Supreme Court quashing the Madhya Pradesh government’s decision allotting land to a trust named after BJP leader late Kushabhau Thakre, he said he respected the court’s decision but said there was nothing wrong in the allotment in the first place as it was not given to any individual or corporate.

The SC had on Wednesday quashed the decision of the Madhya Pradesh government in 2004 to allot 30 acres to a trust named after Mr. Thakre.

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