As his team’s indefinite protest against corruption entered its sixth day, Anna Hazare Monday asked the UPA government to bring a stringent Lokpal bill or be swept out of power. The government, however, hit out at Team Anna, questioning its methods of struggle.
Team Anna stuck to its demand of bringing a strong anti-corruption bill on a fast track even as the septuagenarian activist entered day two of his indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar.
“The way this wave of protest against corruption is building up in the country, I get a feeling that this government will have to bring a strong Lokpal Bill or else it will have to go,” Hazare said in his address to the gathering which swelled toward the evening.
The 75-year-old Hazare looked fit on the second day of his fast that he started Sunday.
According to the health bulletin issued by the India Against Corruption (IAC), the group that supports Hazare, the septuagenarian’s blood pressure was recorded normal with pulse rate stable at 89. His blood sugar level was normal at 98.
People turned up in huge numbers at the agitation site, where Team Anna’s core members Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai have been fasting for over five days.
The fasting venue was abuzz with people from all walks of life even as it reverberated with loud slogans of “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, “Vande Mataram” and “Inquilab Zindabad”.
A frail looking Kejriwal, on his sixth day of fast, said that “even if 5 percent corruption could be reduced, the Rs. 33 per litre taxation on petrol and Rs. 16 per litre tax on diesel could have been exempted, resulting in a huge relief to the common public”.
“No political party in the country could be expected to provide clean governance and an alternative will rise from the people’s protest,” he said.
Meanwhile, on the lines of Saturday’s protest outside the official residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, over 50 people, said to be supporters of Hazare, Monday protested outside the house of union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
Denying any involvement in organisation of either of the protests, Team Anna claimed that the protest was a result of people’s anger against the government, but union minister Ambika Soni hit out at the activists for using methods that in no way enhance the cause of the fight against corruption.
“Do you think it beholds us to write “chor” (thief) outside the PM’s residence? Satellite transmits those images not only in New Delhi or Mumbai, but across the globe,” Soni said.
“I don’t think they enhance the cause of fighting corruption,” she added.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the government has already taken steps to bring about Lokpal by getting the legislation passed in the Lok Sabha. The legislation could not be passed the Rajya Sabha as the ruling party lacks numbers in the house, he added.
Apart from the government conceding the demand for a more stringent Lokpal law that would create an all-powerful anti-corruption ombudsman in India, Team Anna also wants the government to create a special probe panel to investigate graft allegations against 15 cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Referring to the demand, Tewari said different courts have delivered verdicts on some of the allegations while in some cases, the ministers have given their responses.
Agreeing that they had a right to protest, the Congress also appealed to Team Anna to maintain self-restraint and not get swayed by emotions.