Govt-civil society conflict escalates

Govt-civil society conflict escalates

Anna Hazare warns of relaunching indefinite fast

Govt-civil society conflict escalates

Enthused by a crowd which egged him on to fight corruption, Hazare, who addressed a moderate gathering fasting against police action on the foll­o­­wers of yoga guru Baba Ra­mdev on Sunday, also launched a virulent attack on the government, accusing it of being behi­nd the smear campaign against civil society representatives on the Lokpal bill drafting panel.

Clearly seeking to pressurise the government into implementing the bill, Hazare asserted: “I will restart my hunger strike from August 16”. Accusing the government for creating “hurdles” in the drafting og the bill, Hazare said the Centre was trying to defame civil society leaders on the joint panel like Shanti Bhushan, his son Prashant, Santosh Hegde and Arvind Kejriwal through a “discreet” campaign.

“First they targeted Shanti and Prashant Bhushan th­r­o­u­gh a CD and later took on Sant­osh Hegde. Now we hear that some officers have been put behind Arvind Kejriwal to find out about his assets,” Hazare said.

‘Another struggle’
Hazare, who was welcomed on to the dais by a thunderous ovation at Rajghat where he held the day-long fast, compared the agitation against corruption to the “second freedom struggle” and likened the police action to the British repression of Indians in Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919.

In early May, Hazare led an indefinite fast forcing the Congress-led UPA government bow to his demand on the Lokpal bill. Consequently, the Centre constituted a committee to draft the bill, including five members from the civil society on the panel. The government had assured that the draft Lokpal bill would be ready by June 30 and taken to Parliament during its winter session.

Anna’s team took the opportunity to campaign for its stand on bringing Prime Minster, superior court judges and MPs in the ambit of the bill. “They think they are our masters. In fact they are servants, and we ha­ve got every right to know wh­at they are doing,” Hazare said.

Committee member Pra­shant Bhushan dared the government to conduct a referendum on the issue of Lokpal. “Let there be a referendum in the country on the Lokpal Bill prepared by the Government and the Jan Lokpal Bill prepa­red by the civil society. Let the one that has maximum support of people be passed in Parliament,” he said.

Launching a tirade at Home Minister P Chidambaram for calling the anti-corruption agitation a threat to democracy, Hazare said ministers need to learn about democracy.