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Anti-corruption legislation for debate in India's parliament

The Indian parliament is expected to debate anti-corruption legislation today after the federal cabinet approved the draft bill on Tuesday night.

NEW DELHI // The Indian parliament is expected to debate anti-corruption legislation today after the federal cabinet approved the draft bill on Tuesday night.

Opposition parties have said they will insist on amendments to the cabinet-approved bill, while Sonia Gandhi, the president of the ruling Congress party, vowed to steer its passage through parliament.

The prominent anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare yesterday said he was not satisfied with the bill, adding the legislation was meant to "fool" the people. Mr Hazare said he would go ahead with his planned three-day fast starting on Tuesday to protest against the government's legislation.

"This is not Anna Hazare's movement alone. It is the movement of the people," Mr Hazare said.

Mr Hazare fasted over the bill several times. In August, he fasted for 12 days to force parliament to pass his proposal to include a powerful watchdog in the bill to police everyone from the prime minister to the lowest village bureaucrat. The August fast sparked protests that saw tens of thousands of people demonstrate across the country.

Parliament's winter session was extended yesterday until December 29 to debate the proposed anti-corruption law.

The proposed legislation would create a nine-member panel to act as an ombudsman. The prime minister comes under the ombudsman's jurisdiction, with exceptions related to security matters, including atomic energy and maintaining public order.

The bill, however, does not bring the country's intelligence agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), under the scrutiny of the ombudsmen. Mr Hazare said this exclusion weakened the legislation. Placing the CBI under the legislation has been one of Mr Hazare's key demands. "Let the government go its way," Mr Hazare said. "And we will go our way."

sbhattacharya@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse