Anna set for fast, politicians hit back (Evening Lead)

December 26th, 2011 - 7:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Anna Hazare Ralegan-Siddhi/New Delhi, Dec 26 (IANS) Anna Hazare was all set Monday to launch his three-day fast in Mumbai Tuesday in support of a strong Lokpal, even as the government dubbed his protest “premature”.

A defiant Hazare told journalists in his village Ralegan-Siddhi that the government was not sincere in the war on corruption and he would travel to Delhi after his Mumbai fast to protest outside Sonia Gandhi’s residence.

The political class hit back. Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan charged Team Anna with “mobocracy”.

Paswan’s was the most strident attack on Hazare since Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad took on the activist in parliament last week. Parliament will debate the Lokpal bill from Dec 27-29, while Hazare observes his fast in Mumbai.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee insisted Monday that parliament alone would have the final say on the proposed Lokpal. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said the Mumbai fast was “premature” and asked Team Anna to leave the Lokpal issue to parliament’s wisdom.

“We know there are few (sticking) points but it is for parliament to decide what will be the final shape of the legislation,” Mukherjee said in New Delhi.

Shukla added: “Let’s leave it to parliament to decide. I request (Hazare) to wait for the outcome in parliament.”

None of this had any impact on Hazare, however. As he left his village Ralegan-Siddhi for Mumbai, his confidante Arvind Kejriwal sought to clarify that Team Anna was opposed to communalism too.

“Communalism is a bigger danger. We have said repeatedly that we are totally against communalism,” he said, after holding free and frank talks with Muslim leaders worried over Hazare’s stated RSS links.

“Corruption does not discriminate between Hindus and Muslims. Corruption affects all communities. A corrupt officer is neither Hindu nor Muslim, he is corrupt,” Kejriwal said.

He also said that the Hazare movement were not ranged against parliament.

“It is the government that has betrayed the country, betrayed parliament. We are appealing to parliament with folded hands to pass a good Lokpal bill.”

Hazare echoed the theme.

“Our movement is not against any party or individual. We have been doing this (fighting corruption) for 25 years.”

He said he and his colleagues had been forced to agitate because even six decades after independence, there was no effective law to “put a brake on corruption”.

“This is not against any political party. This movement is for change. We have nothing to do with any political party.”

After the Jan 27-29 Mumbai fast, Hazare will travel to Delhi to kickstart a nationwide “Jail Bharo” campaign that organisers said had elicited a huge response.

Hundreds of workers and activists Monday evening gave final touches to the fast site at the sprawling MMRDA ground in Mumbai where a giant stage has come up to accommodate Hazare.

India Against Corruption (IAC) activists say they expect thousands to turn up all three days at the ground.

Hazare said people from all over Maharashtra and even other parts of India would gather in his support.

A simultaneous Jan 27-29 but day-long hunger strike would be observed at Delhi’s Ramlila ground, where Hazare had fasted for 12 long days in August virtually shaking the government.

This will be Hazare’s fourth hunger strike this year since his first fast in April that put Lokpal on the national agenda.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Politics |