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Hazare softens stand on Lokpal, says move ahead with the Bill

Ralegan Siddhi (Maha), Dec 14 (PTI) : Softening his stand on the Lokpal issue, Anna Hazare suggested moving ahead with the amended Bill presented in the Rajya Sabha and said improvements in the legislation could be brought through amendments later.

”Time has came to move (ahead) with the present draft of Lokpal Bill and get it passed. Improvements can be made later through amendments once it becomes a Constitutional reality,” Hazare told PTI as his indefinite fast for a citizen's ombudsman entered the fifth day on Saturday.

The government had introduced the amended Lokpal Bill on Friday for consideration by the Rajya Sabha but it could not be taken up due to disruptions by various parties including Samajwadi Party, which supports the UPA dispensation from outside.

The amended Lokpal Bill delinks setting up of Lokayuktas in the states and transfers the powers of sanction of prosecution against public servant to the ombudsman.

The amendments were made after the Union Cabinet accepted 14 of the 16 recommendations made by the Rajya Sabha Select Committee, set up in May last year amid sharp differences among political parties because of which the legislation remained stuck in the Upper House since December 2011.

An indication of softening of Team Anna's stand on the Bill had come on Friday when former Army Chief General V K Singh said,”if a person is naked, he should at least get undergarments, a three-piece suit can follow.”

Meanwhile, the fast has started impacting the 76-year-old anti-corruption crusader's health. He has lost 3.68 kgs and his blood pressure is on the higher side, doctors who examined him, said.

Meanwhile, former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, a close aide of the veteran social activist, has reached Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district of Western Maharashtra, and joined the hunger strike to press for the passage of a strong anti-graft law. ”I am on hunger strike for the first time in life and determined to continue as long as Anna carries on his fast,” the 64-year-old Ramon Magsaysay Award winning activist said.