April 5, 2011 3:40:53 am
Veteran social activist Anna Hazare today began a fast unto death in the capital demanding the enactment of a comprehensive Jan Lokpal Bill to give wider powers to the Ombudsman to check corruption.
Joined by scores of people including noted reformist Swami Agnivesh,former IPS officer and activist Kiran Bedi and Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey,72-year-old Hazare began his hunger strike at Jantar Mantar after paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.
“I will observe a fast unto death till the government agrees to form a joint committee comprising 50 per cent officials and the remaining citizens and intellectuals to draft the Jan Lokpal Bill,” Hazare said at Rajghat.
He then proceeded to India Gate in an open jeep where tricolour waving supporters,including school students were present.
Hazare went ahead with his agitation despite the Prime Minister’s Office last night expressing disappointment over his decision to go on a fast unto death. The PMO release said the Prime Minister has enormous respect for Hazare and his mission.
“The Prime Minister says we trust you (Hazare),we respect you. But,then why did the PM not sit with us even once after the meeting last month,” Hazare asked.
The anti-corruption crusader said he was disappointed after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the last meeting with social activists rejected their demand for a joint committee.
“If the government alone drafts this Bill,it will be autocratic not democratic,there will be discrepancies,” Hazare,who has in the past observed fasts to protest against corruption,said.
He lamented that views of eminent persons like Justice (Retd) Santosh Hegde,lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Agnivesh “were not considered important by the government”.
Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav,who was present to show solidarity with Hazare,said he was convinced that the Jan Lokpal Bill was the need of the hour to tackle corruption in the country.
“Just as Election Commission and Supreme Court are effective bodies,similarly an institution which is to fight corruption has to be equally powerful,” Yadav said “I approve of the draft prepared by Hazareji and others. I am willing to back it in Parliament,” Yadav said.
Hazare’s supporters held banners demanding the enactment of the Jan Lokpal Bill at the earliest and claimed that at least six lakh people had vouched their support to the anti-corruption drive by signing a letter.
“All activists present here would be on a day-long hunger strike,but,Hazareji,would continue his fast till the government agrees,” Kiran Bedi,also a Magsaysay award winner,told the gathering.
She urged people across the country to join Hazare in this “crucial demand” for an effective anti-corruption legislation and said all citizens should observe a day-long fast.
“We need bodies like the Lokayukta to stem corruption at the state level. We all know what is the condition of the only one that is presently functional… in Karnataka. He is fighting a battle himself,” Bedi said.
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