New Delhi: Gandhian
activist Anna Hazare Thursday said he will sit on a fast here
again from Aug 16 as the government had turned its back on
drafting a strong anti-graft Lokpal bill.
"I stopped my fast at Jantar Mantar because the government said
our demands will be met," a peeved Hazare told a news conference
"Now that the government is turning its back on the promise, I
will fast again from Aug 16," he said, referring to the day after
India's independence day.
The 74-year-old social activist was speaking a day after civil
society activists met government representatives to thrash out the
key issues in drafting the Lokpal bill.
The meeting ended on a bitter note as there was no consensus on
crucial issues, and a decision was taken that both the sides would
present their versions of the bill to the cabinet.
"Suddenly they have changed their position," Hazare said. "If the
two drafts were to be sent, then why did they form the joint
committee? They could have this earlier.
"What was the point of wasting so much time? It is clear the
government is not interested in eradicating corruption."
He said the government had gone back on all their promises one by
"When I went on hunger strike (in April), they said we will go by
whatever you say.
"I called off my fast on the government's promise. Since the
government is not sincere, I will start my fast from Aug 16. Even
if I have to die, it does not matter."
In April, Hazare sat on an indefinite hunger strike to press the
government for a strong Lokpal bill, which envisages bringing the
prime minister, judges and bureaucrats under its purview. The
government had to bow to the demand after seeing the mass movement
and formed a 10-member drafting committee to thrash out the finer
details of the bill.
The five civil society members held a press conference here
Thursday evening, where Arvind Kejriwal called the government
version of the Lokpal bill a "jokepal" bill.
"The government has frittered away a huge opportunity to provide a
good legislation to the country. This was all a drama. The
government's Lokpal bill is not a Lokpal bill, it is a jokepal
bill," he said.
Eminent lawyer Prashant Bhushan also warned other political
parties that they will have to face consequences if they pass the
government version of the Lokpal bill.
Speaking earlier Thursday, Congress general secretary Digvijay
Singh asked the civil society members to change their attitude
towards the government.
"The so-called civil society members have to understand that this
is a parliamentary democracy and there is a constitution. The
parliament frames the law, rules and is accountable to the
people," Singh told reporters.
"Eminent people are there in the (Lokpal bill) drafting committee
and they should not say that the government is with them or
against them. This attitude will not help," he added.