Pack jails for Lokpal, roars Anna

After winning varying support from leading political parties the veteran activist hits out at the government; says it's insincere in the war against cancerous corruption

Signalling more confrontation ahead, Anna Hazare ended a day's fast yesterday urging people to fill jails for a strong Lokpal after winning varying support from leading political parties.

Speaking after politicians of all shades left his dais in the heart of the city, Hazare again hit out at Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi for what he said was the government's insincerity in the war against cancerous corruption.

He said only Gandhi's pressure could have watered down the Lokpal report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, overriding the "Sense of the House" resolution of parliament that had promised Citizen's Charter for government departments, bringing all bureaucracy in its ambit, and Lokayuktas for all states.

"Be prepared to pack the jails if the government doesn't come out with a powerful Lokpal bill to battle corruption," the 74-year-old said, drawing cheers from thousands packing the roads near the Jantar Mantar monument. "No jail in India should be left empty," he added.

Following Gandhi
Declaring that there was a need to change the entire system, Hazare announced his team's decision to develop 100 model villages to show how money meant for development was siphoned off.

For this, he said, financial help would be taken from industrialists. "There are good industrialists," he said, underlining that no aid would be accepted from the tainted. "Industrialists had backed Mahatma Gandhi too."

At the venue, some of India's leading politicians voiced support for Team Anna's version of the Lokpal even as some underlined their reservations on certain secondary issues.

All of them backed the demand for including the prime minister in the Lokpal, and most came out in support of covering the lower bureaucracy in its ambit.

Absolute support: Speaking after politicians of all shades left his dais,
anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare again hit out at Congress general
secretary Rahul Gandhi at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi yesterday.
Pic/Rajeev Tyagi

BJP leader Arun Jaitley was most vociferous on the issue of the prime minister. "We demand everybody who is in the government should come under the purview of Lokpal. We oppose the prime minister's non-inclusion," Jaitley said.

"The very basic principles of having a strong Lokpal should not be tampered with. Including lower bureaucracy and having Citizens' Charter was the sense of the house," he added.

Dare you change!
Thundered Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav to wild clapping that "not a comma or a full stop" in the "Sense of the House" resolution must be changed.

Hazare has threatened to intensify protests if his version of the Lokpal is rejected. The Congress appeared unfazed. Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, "I have no hesitation in saying that Anna is insulting parliament."

Yesterday's protest came after the Parliamentary Standing Committee headed by Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi issued a Lokpal report that Hazare trashed as inconsequential to overcome corruption.

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