Nine oppn parties to hold protests on Aug 23 on corruption

New Delhi, Aug 19: Nine opposition parties, including the Left, today termed the government version of the Lokpal Bill as "unacceptable" and said they would jointly organise nationwide protests next week to demand an effective legislation to curb corruption in high places.

"We have decided to conduct demonstrations, dharnas and other forms of protests all over the country against rampant corruption and growing attacks on democratic rights" on August 23, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat told a press conference after a meeting of the nine parties here.

CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan said, "We may even demand its (government Lokpal bill's) withdrawal if necessary", while Karat said the parties would express their opinion in the parliamentary Standing Committee looking into the legislation.

Karat and Bardhan were accompanied by top leaders -- N Chandrababu Naidu (TDP), H D Deve Gowda (JD-S), Ajit Singh (RLD), Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc), Abani Roy (RSP) among others. M Thambidurai (AIADMK) and Bhratruhari Mahtab (BJD) also attended the meeting.

Asked whether this agitation would pave the way for a Third Front, Karat merely said, "These are issue-based protests. .... Earlier, we had jointly organised all-India hartal on the issue of price rise".

On whether they would organise a ''Bharat Bandh'', Karat said this was the beginning of a nationwide anti-corruption campaign. "We will meet again after August 23 to decide on the future course".

To a question whether they would coordinate with the BJP -led NDA, he said the nine parties were organising their own programmes. "The NDA has also expressed that the government version of the Bill does not serve the purpose", he said, adding all opposition parties were organising their own agitational programmes.


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