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Friday, 19 August 2011

Anna corners govt with new deadline

Anna Hazare came out of Tihar jail here on Friday to a rousing welcome by his burgeoning supporters, and spelled bigger trouble for the government by announcing that his four-day-old fast against corruption would end only with the passage of the Jan Lok Pal Bill. The 74-year-old Gandhian, who continued his strike from the sprawling Ramlila Maidan teeming with civil society leaders and the public amid rains, set August 30 as the deadline for Parliament to ratify the controversial legislation.

“In the last four days, I have lost three kg of weight. Even then I will fight. We will not leave this ground till we get the Jan Lok Pal Bill,” he said.

The statement is dramatic given that only yesterday did his supporters say they would allow Hazare to fast only as per the advice from his doctors. None from Team Anna has joined the activist in his fast, but they upped the ante. on Friday, Hazare turned the heat further on the government — which already blinked by first arresting the crusader (on August 16) and then releasing him after withdrawing all cases — should pass the Bill, since the ruling UPA was in majority in Parliament and in the standing committee. Team Anna accused the regime of “hiding behind” the parliamentary standing committees.
Hazare cautioned the rulers that laxity in meeting his deadline would only lead to an intensified ‘jail bharo’ stir. No senior ministry official met him on Friday, even as the government said it was “always ready” for negotiation. Its stand, though, remained unchanged: Team Anna should talk to the standing committee — as law minister Salman Khurshid and minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajiv Shukla reiterated. Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit, MP, publicly said the government “mishandled” the Hazare matter.

“They should have shown more sensitivity.” Rumours continued that the two parties were involved in backroom negotiations.

Earlier, the 36-strong medical team did a health checkup after which Hazare’s aide Arvind Kejriwal announced that the leader fine. On his part, Hazare said, “In 1942, there was a revolution; the English had to leave. Yet corruption and loot continued. The second freedom struggle has begun”.


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