Much more needs to be done to fight corruption

New Delhi: Gandhian Anna Hazare on Sunday said civil society activists were planning their next strategy to ensure a tough Lokpal Bill and that much more needed to be done to fight corruption in the country.

"We are planning our next strategy. Now that a small battle on the Lokpal Bill has been won, we will have to work more for laws to tackle corruption in various levels of our society", 73-year Hazare, whose fast-unto-death agitation received nationwide support, said here.

He was was speaking to reporters a day after government agreed to constitute a 10-member Joint Committee, including civil society members to draft an effective Lokpal Bill.

The veteran activist, who sat on a hunger stir for 98 hours, however, admitted that he could not fathom that the movement led by him would generate such a massive nationwide support.

"I had no idea this agitation would turn out to be as big as it did… and the nationwide support we got. I wanted to do it in Maharashtra but Kiran Bedi, Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal insisted that I hold the fast-unto-death in New Delhi", said Hazare.

He said he was happy with the government`s decision over the Joint Committee while noting the Lokpal Bill should be introduced in the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

Asked if a special session of Parliament should be convened for quick passage of the anti-corruption bill, Hazare said there was no need for it as that would amount to additional expenditure for the government.

To a question as to why activist Kiran Bedi, a former IPS officer, was not part of the 10-member committee even though she has been actively campaigning for the Lokpal Bill, Hazare said the committee was just for two months and needed experts at present.

"At present the committee needs experts who can draft a stronger bill. Who should be part of it and who should stay out are not important matters. This will be of importance at a later stage… when the Lokpal committee will be formed", he explained.

Regretting that corruption had taken deep roots which had affected common people, he said by having a strong statute the situation in this regard will improve.

Hazare said it was time to involve people from across the country when it came to issues like fighting corruption "because it affects each one of us".

"Though I do not know any one specific reason for the massive support I got, one certainty is that each of us is fed up with the degree of corruption in the country", the activist said.

He said the use of technology including SMS, social networking sites and the media just helped spread like wild fire the message of holding anti-corruption agitations throughout the country.

Asked about his earlier comment that Union Minister Sharad Pawar should step down, Hazare said, "He has already resigned from one Group of Ministers (GoM). This is a democracy, if people demand that he should step down, then on moral grounds he should".

Calling the agitation a victory of people`s power, Hazare, however, reminded all that it was just the beginning of the fight against corruption.