New Delhi: Anna Hazare, on a day-long fast Sunday, set a 2014 deadline -- when
general elections are scheduled -- for an all-powerful
anti-corruption watchdog and threatened to launch a court arrest
stir in August if the government doesn't act against corrupt
A large gathering of his supporters -- 2,000 according to police
estimates -- had converged at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the
capital to rally behind Hazare during the fast protest, his fifth
since last year.
The day-long token fast, according to Hazare, was to draw
attention to the lack of government protection to whistle blowers
who expose graft in government offices.
The agitation began with a short film screening on the
whistleblowers -- some of them government officials -- who have
been killed during their fight against corruption over the last
Hazare said the government has failed to protect the
"The people who are fighting against corruption and have given
their lives, the government is not doing anything to protect
them," he told reporters.
"Twenty-five people are dead... Their (whistleblowers') mothers,
their children, their fathers, their wives are crying for justice.
But the government is not listening to the cries of people. The
government has turned deaf and dumb."
Family members and parents of some of the dead whistleblowers,
including that of Madhya Pradesh police officer Narendra Kumar who
was allegedly murdered by mining mafia, were also present at the
The septuagenarian social activist has been asking the government
to pass in parliament the Jan Lokpal bill with a stronger
whistle-blower protection provision.
The government has already passed in the Lok Sabha its Lokpal bill
which Hazare and his team have trashed as weak with loopholes that
would help corrupt to get away with their crimes.
The Lokpal bill is pending before the Rajya Sabha and is likely to
be taken up again in the ongoing budget session.
Minutes before breaking his fast, Hazare alleged that the
"government's intentions are not clear and that is why they are
not serious on the Lokpal bill".
"There will be a big struggle. Then the government will listen.
The government will be forced to introduce the Jan Lokpal bill,"
he thundered with a stern message: "Introduce the bill or go in
He also warned of a nationwide court arrest agitation if cases
were not filed against ministers involved in corruption.
"By August, if FIRs are not filed against tainted ministers, then
be ready for a jail bharo andolan."
He also demanded that the "Right to Reject" candidates in
elections should be allowed.
He also demanded that voters should have the right to reject any
candidate to curb what he said "goondas' election to parliament".
"We were requesting the government to bring the right to reject.
This is important," he said.
He urged his supporters to wake up for a renewed movement. "We
don't have to sleep now. We have slept enough."
In Delhi's Janatar Mantar, the septuagenarian in August last year
held a 12-day fast that galvanised a nationwide support for him.
Hazare returned to the national capital for the agitation which
comes months after his failed attempt to gather crowds in Mumbai
in December last year when he had call off his protest at Azad
Maidan there, citing ill-health.
Buoyed by Hazare and his crowd, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
was quick to target the government on corruption saying it was
"not serious" about the anti-graft Lokpal bill.
"The government is not serious and honest about passing a strong
Lokpal bill. So, whether it is Anna Hazare or Baba Ramdev, they
feel the need to fast again," BJP leader Balbir Punj said.
The Congress said the government is committed to a strong Lokpal
bill but it is for the parliament to make the law.
But the ruling party seemed not perturbed by the Hazare protest.
"The government is committed to a strong Lokpal but it is for the
parliament to decide what kind of law has to be made,"
spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.