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Thursday, April 17, 2014  

BJP announces nationwide stir against graft
NEW DELHI After holding a day-long protest on the issue of corruption and bringing back black money stashed in banks abroad, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday announced to stage a four-day nationwide stir on similar lines from June 23.

“We will go for a four-day nationwide stir from June 23. Our main targets will be the prime minister, the Congress chief and the Congress party...the aim of the nation-wide stir would be to root out corruption, bring back black money and save the democracy,” BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar said in New Delhi.

Referring to the police action against Baba Ramdev at Ramlila ground last week and the government’s reaction, Kumar said: “Just before the imposition of Emergency in 1975, similar set of language, idiom and cacophony was raised by the then Congress leaders to justify trampling of constitutional rights of the common man.”

Kumar said while Sonia Gandhi and All India Congress Committee general secretary Rahul Gandhi raised the matter of police atrocities on farmers in Bhatta-Parsaul, they have not shown “similar zeal and enthusiasm” in condemning the police action.

Meanwhile, the government panel headed by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) chairman Prakash Chandra held its first meeting to examine ways to trace and curb black money, in the backdrop of growing campaigns against corruption across the country.

“The committee agreed on the need to strengthen internal laws to curb black money,” a CBDT spokesman said.

The panel, which includes top officials from various law enforcement agencies, agreed on the need to strengthen the existing legal framework.

“On the external front, the committee decided to invite public opinion on the illegal and unaccounted money issue,” the CBDT official said. According to unofficial estimates, the quantum of black money ranges between $450-1,400 billion. A recent study by Global Financial Integrity estimated the illicit money outflow to be $462 billion.

Facing Anna Hazare’s threat to go on an indefinite fast from August 16, government and the Congress hardened its stand, making it clear to activists involved in the drafting the Lokpal Bill that Parliament is the final authority in making laws.

“I do not believe that four or five persons or a single NGO can claim to be better informed and be the sole repository of all knowledge,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said.

Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan also spoke in a similar vein.

“While the process of consultation is already on, I want to point out that suggestions arising out of this agitation finally will have to go to Cabinet and Parliament,” Natarajan said.

She said: “Law can be made by legislature is the view of every political party. No one has promised them (civil society representatives) that whatever they say, will become a law.”

Ministers have been submitting details of the assets owned by them and their family members to the Prime Minister’s Office  since 2006, Soni said. “Every year we give these details,” Soni said.

Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal backed  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s call to his ministers to declare their assets, calling it a right step.

“It’s absolutely correct and it should happen. All ministers should declare their assets, it is a good step,” Sibal said.

Agencies
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