New Delhi, Aug 25 (IANS): Saying that he salutes Anna Hazare, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today made an emotive appeal to him to end his fast in support of a strong anti-corruption legislation.
"I respect his idealism, I respect him as an individual... I applaud him, I salute him," Manmohan Singh said in the Lok Sabha about the 74-year-old soldier-turned-activist whose protest has attracted global attention. "His life is much too precious. Therefore, I would urge Hazare to end his fast," the Prime Minister said, as the entire house listened to him attentively.
Speaking at the end of a debate on graft, Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister since 2004, admitted he may have made mistakes but denied charges that he was the fountainhead of corruption in the country.
"There is anger in the country," he said, echoing the national mood in the wake of widespread protests since Hazare began his fast Aug 16.
The Prime Minister said the anger was about the misuse of public offices and added there was need to come up with "a very strong Bill" to battle corruption. And so, he called upon the house to appeal to Hazare that "he has made his point, it has been registered with us".
With Hazare determined not to end his fast till the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by him and his colleagues was not placed in Parliament, Manmohan Singh suggested that it could be discussed by the house along with other similar bills including the government's Lokpal Bill.
Such a debate would help determine the weak and strong points of various bills so that we "have the best possible Bill to deal with the problem of corruption".
Such a move, he added, would respect parliamentary supremacy and at the same time meet Hazare's demand. "I conclude by appealing to all sections to join me in the appeal I have made to Anna Hazare that his life is too precious," he said.
Manmohan Singh also wished Hazare "a long life, a happy life in the service of the people". "He has registered his point and we respectfully request him to end his fast."