Anna to go on fast from July 29 on corruption
Brushing aside concerns over his poor health, Anna Hazare Tuesday announced that he will go on an indefinite fast from July 29 if the government fails to take immediate steps to check corruption in high places.
Reversing his earlier decision, Hazare said he will join his team members if the government does not agree to their demands within four days of their fast which will begin Wednesday, the day president-elect Pranab Mukherjee will be sworn-in.
The members also hit out at the president-elect and termed his election as 'unfortunate.' However, there were different voices from Hazare and his team members. While Hazare spoke mostly on Jan Lokpal bill, his team members focussed on rampant corruption in the government and its institution.
"They (Team Anna members) suggested I don't fast. I will give four days to the government to agree to our demand and if they don't, I will sit on an indefinite fast from July 29," said Hazare, who had earlier decided not to go on fast due to his health problems.
"Even if I die, I will die for my country," said the social activist. This is not the first time Hazare, 75, is sitting on a fast. This will be his third indefinite hunger strike demanding a strong Jan Lokpal Bill that checks corruption at all levels. His earlier protests stirred a nationwide movement.
His protests also forced the government to introduce the Lokpal bill in the parliament. Though the Lok Sabha passed the bill, the Rajya Sabha is yet to clear it. Speaking to reporters, the anti-corruption crusader said: "The government has deceived us again and again and tried to malign us. This government is trying to break my team."
According to Hazare, the corrupt politicians present inside the union cabinet and parliament could never allow for a bill like Lokpal to be passed. "Even before Lokpal, we demand that these tainted politicians should be brought to trial," he said.
Detailing Team Anna's demands, Hazare's key aide Arvind Kejriwal said that they have demanded "formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of three retired Supreme Court judges who have the confidence of the Indian public, to investigate the 15 tainted cabinet members, against whom, we have given proofs."
Team Anna had earlier given documents which they claimed contained proofs of graft against 15 union cabinet members, including Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "As many as 162 Lok Sabha members and 39 Rajya Sabha members are also facing corruption charges. We demand that their cases should also be given to the fast track courts," Kejriwal added.
On Mukherjee's election as president, Kejriwal said: "it is unfortunate that the constitution, which was meant to prevent corruption, gives immunity from both investigation and prosecution to the president. But we will continue to bring out his (Mukherjee's) misdeeds in public." Fellow Team Anna member, Prashant Bhushan added that "if the state of corruption in the country went unchecked, it would lead India towards civil war".
Bhushan's father Shashi Bhushan claimed that the anti-graft movement would succeed in bringing out system-wide changes and "create a system of governance envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi."