As the Maharashtra government prepares to introduce the much-anticipated Lokayukta Bill in the ongoing winter session of the Assembly, social crusader Anna Hazare on Monday termed it as a matter of happiness for all the people of the state.
“After completing the final draft, the state Cabinet passed it on Sunday. It’s a matter of happiness for the people of Maharashtra. The government has prepared a very beautiful draft. I thank Chief Minister Eknathji Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis on behalf of the people,” said Hazare.
He recalled the series of public movements after which the Lokpal was introduced on January 1, 2014.
“But Lokpal is only for the Centre, while Lokayukta is important for the states. It is needed to enable citizens to complain against corruption. That’s why we had been crusading in its favour for so many years,” Hazare, 85, pointed out.
After his hunger strike in Ralegan-Siddhi village in January 2019, the erstwhile BJP-Shiv Sena regime and then CM Fadnavis had given him a written assurance to bring in the Lokayukta law in the state.
Later, a drafting committee was formed with five top officials from different ministries and five representatives of the civil society, which worked for nearly three-and-a-half years.
Since the government did not appear to be paying serious attention to the matter, Hazare said he kept up the pressure with repeated correspondence with the officials and finally his efforts have borne fruit.
He lauded the various provisions in the proposed final draft bill which will be tabled in Assembly, the prime being that it will cover the CM, all ministers, public representatives, government officials and employees in municipalities, civic bodies, zilla parishads, panchayats, etc.
Hazare said the committee considered the Lokayukta laws in Kerala, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and the Maharashtra law “will be the best and exemplary for other states”.
“Due to the new Lokayukta laws, there will be decentralisation of power and the people will get to experience what true democracy is. If this law is passed and implemented here, Maharashtra will become a corruption-free state,” Hazare said.