Social reformer Anna Hazare's fast for a more stringent
anti-corruption law entered the third day Thursday with a
groundswell of support from all sections of society as the
government reached out to break the impasse and held "constructive"
talks with activists Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal.
Hoping to find ways to bridge differences on the anti-graft Lokpal
Bill, union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal
said he held a "very constructive" dialogue with Swami Agnivesh and
"We had a very constructive dialogue. We are trying to find out
solutions," Sibal told reporters here after the meeting. "The broad
parameters are generally agreed upon, the formalities not yet.
"We want Anna Hazare to give up the fast; we believe that the object
must be that civil society and government should sit together and
deal with the problem of corruption through an effective
Swami Agnivesh echoed the minister's words and said: "Dialogue is
going on in a positive and constructive way."
As the government stepped up its efforts to end the unforeseen
crisis and the massive response that Anna Hazare's crusade has
generated across the country, the 72-year-old Gandhian said he was
fine but feeling weak.
"Apart from a slight weakness, I am fine. I've lost a little weight
but still I can carry on for at least seven more days. I'll never
leave the path of truth," Hazare told reporters here amid thunderous
applause from crowds at Jantar Mantar, a short distance away from
Parliament House, where thousands of people, including
schoolchildren, grassroots workers and retired bureaucrats, had
Anna Hazare is demanding that the Lokpal (ombudsman) bill be given
more teeth so it can effectively tackle corruption in public life.
Anna Hazare also made it clear that politicians could come and sit
among the crowds but not on the stage "as this is a people's
movement and giving it a political shade would be wrong".
He also apologized to former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Uma
Bharati, who had been asked to leave the protest site Wednesday
along with her former colleague Madan Lal Khurana and Indian
National Lok Dal leader Om Prakash Chautala.
Away from ground zero Jantar Mantar, the movement against corruption
gathered more momentum across India.
Scores of activists in various parts of Punjab, Haryana and the
joint capital Chandigarh, for instance, came forward to register
"We are gathering support even on social networking sites and
through sending e-mails and SMSs to people. We strongly demand the
Jan Lokpal bill as it would ensure the seizing of looted money from
the houses and bank accounts of fraudsters and unscrupulous
politicians," said Amit Saini, a social activist based in Amritsar.
At various places, teachers, lawyers, students and doctors planned
to observe fasts.
Two lawyers of Punjab and Haryana High Court -- V.S. Makkar and
Gaurav Goyal -- are sitting on an indefinite hunger strike in
And in Bihar, women and men joined hands in the campaign to end
corruption in various towns and villages.
"Corruption is a big hurdle for development. If Anna Hazare's
campaign forces the central government to bring a more comprehensive
Lokbal bill to fight corruption in public life, it will be a turning
point for India," said Patna student Vineet Rai.
Supports came in through many tweets as well.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj were
amongst those who tweeted their backing for the campaign.
Drawing a parallel with the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak's
government in Egypt, Bharadwaj said that similar "broadly peaceful
protests" can bring down corrupt politicians in India too.
Tharoor added that discussions on the Lokpal Bill were inevitable
and not all points could be supported. "Consultations on Lokpal bill
In Mumbai, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray said the central government
was worried about the growing public support to Hazare's agitation
since that could oust it from power, and not Hazare's hunger strike.