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Anna calls for ‘second freedom struggle’,says will fast for 15-20 days

“We have requested them to present their views before the committee,” said panel chairman Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai |
August 10, 2011 1:31:13 am

High on symbolism and evocative speeches,the call for a ‘second freedom struggle’ by Anna Hazare and other proponents of the Lokpal Bill on the 69th anniversary of the Quit India Movement fell several thousands short of a revolution,but it was indisputable by the end of Tuesday that it had captured the imagination of the 2,000-odd Mumbaikars gathered at Azad Maidan.

Weary of falling markets,soaring prices and potholes,office-goers found their curiosity piqued by the Gandhi topi-sporting volunteers milling around Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and strolled into Azad Maidan opposite,where they joined groups as diverse as India Against Corruption volunteers,taxi drivers,students,dabbawallahs and retailers bellowing ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

On a tour of various cities in the run-up to his proposed hunger strike in Delhi from August 16,Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal said the government had summoned their team for negotiations. A day after Rajya Sabha Chairman Mohammad Hamid Ansari referred the Bill to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel,Public Grievances and Law and Justice for a scrutiny,the committee on Tuesday decided to call Hazare and his associates. “We have requested them to present their views before the committee,” said panel chairman Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Three representatives would meet members of the Standing Committee on Wednesday,but there would be no compromise on the Bill,said Hazare and Kejriwal.

Also,the squabble over permissions to hold a peaceful protest at Jantar Mantar starting August 16 remains unresolved.

“Our objective is not to cause the government to fall. But if the government cannot hear the voice of its people,then there’s no harm done if it collapses,” said Hazare,to applause and cheers as he labelled the government “nikamma”. He promised to fast for “15 to 20 days”.

Kejriwal announced that “not just the prime minister,but also chief ministers,MLAs,municipal corporators,sarpanches,state employees and district judges” will be kept out of the purview of the Lokpal if the government’s draft Bill is enacted.

Hazare’s somewhat simplistic solution met with cheers: “Give power in the hands of the citizen. He will use the RTI to get information about scams,he can then approach the Lokpal,there will be a probe and then a jail term up to a maximum of life imprisonment,” he said.

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