The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today affirmed his commitment to root out corruption but said there is no magic wand to do so and decried hunger strikes as a means to achieve the objective, in an apparent reference to Anna Hazare who is scheduled to begin fast tomorrow.

Addressing the nation from historic Red Fort for the eighth consecutive year on the occasion of 65th Independence Day, Dr Singh acknowledged that corruption is a big obstacle in national transformation but said it should be discussed in a manner that should not create an atmosphere in which country’s progress comes into question.

Devoting a major portion of his 40-minute speech to corruption over which his Government is under all-round attack, he said the problem manifests itself in many forms and admitted that many times funds meant for people lands up in the “pockets of government officials”.

He maintained that the Government wants a strong Lokpal to prevent corruption in high places and said a Bill in this regard has been introduced in Parliament.

Without naming Mr Hazare and his agitation beginning here tomorrow, Dr Singh said he was aware that some people had different opinion on some aspects of the Lokpal bill.

“Those who don’t agree with this Bill can put forward their views to Parliament, political parties and even the press. However, I also believe they should not resort to hunger strikes and fasts-unto-death,” Dr Singh said.

He asserted that only Parliament can decide what type of Lokpal legislation can be enacted.

Insisting that no government has a “magic wand” to deal with corruption, he said, “We are taking the strictest possible action in cases of corruption that have surfaced.”

Speaking from a bullet-proof enclosure amid rains, he touched on a variety of subjects including the sensitive land acquisition issue, naxalism, terrorism, economy and inflation.

(This article was published on August 15, 2011)
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