PM: We want a strong Lokpal, fast will not end corruption

India is celebrating 65th Independence Day today and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh played out a tradition that started with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru - unfurling the national flag at the Red Fort and then addressing the nation from the ramparts.

Addressing the nation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it is the time "to rise above our personal or political interests and build consensus on issues of national importance".

With government facing attack over multiple scams, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday promised a strong Lokpal to end corruption in high places and asserted that hunger strikes will not help address the problem, in an apparent reference to Anna Hazare's agitation.

Speaking on the occasion, Manmohan Singh said there are some people who want to create disturbances in the country so that our progress gets stalled.

Addressing the corruption issue, the Prime Minister said that the government is taking strictest possible action in cases of corruption. "We want strong Lokpal to prevent corruption in high places," he said.

Manmohan Singh said that India needs a strong Lokpal Bill but fasting is not the answer. A day before Hazare is to embark on an indefinite fast demanding a strong Lokpal, he made it clear that only Parliament can decide what type of Lokpal legislation can be enacted.

"I am aware of the differences of opinion on some aspects of the 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," Singh said.

The Prime Minister said that corruption needs to be fought on many fronts. "There is no single big step which we can take to eradicate corruption; no government has a magic wand to eradicate corruption," he said.

Acknowledging that corruption is a big obstacle in national transformation, he said the menace should be discussed in a manner that should not create an atmosphere in which country's progress comes into question.

He also admitted that funds meant for welfare of common man end up in the pockets of government officials.

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

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