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22 eminent people urge Team Anna to call off fast

New Delhi, Aug 2: 22 eminent persons, including former Army chief V K Singh, today appealed to Team Anna to call off their indefinite fast as the activists are said to be considering announcing a
PTI August 02, 2012 16:01 IST
New Delhi, Aug 2: 22 eminent persons, including former Army chief V K Singh, today appealed to Team Anna to call off their indefinite fast as the activists are said to be considering announcing a “political alternative” before ending their stir.

“All the people listening to us, watching us tell us whether Team Anna should form a political party,” prominent Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan said addressing the protesters this afternoon.

The appeal from eminent jurist V R Krishna Iyer, former Chief Election Commissioner J M Lyngdoh, Singh and others came as the health of Arvind Kejriwal and two others deteriorated on the ninth day of their fast.

The letter from eminent persons raised the possibility of an end to the indefinite stir during the day with Hazare likely to announce the future course of action. However, Team Anna members refused to confirm this.

“We appeal you to end the fast,” a letter written by the eminent persons, including P V Rajagopal, who had resigned from Team Anna earlier, said.

Reading out from the letter, Anupam Kher said the government was not responding to the fast and was not paying heed to the protest.

“The government has turned its back to the agitation and has also not shown political will to punish corrupt people.  The opposition also does not fare well on the issue,” the letter said.

“Do not expect anything from this political class. We request Anna Hazare and other fasting activists to channelise their efforts in setting up a political alternative, to give a responsive, democratic and non-violent system,” it said.

“Indian democracy needs a new direction. We request the people who are fasting to accept this historical challenge and call off their fast,” the letter said.

Questions were raised whether Team Anna was mulling a political role as their official twitter handle and website put a poser to the public asking, “Should Annaji provide a political alternative to the country? Reply YES or NO to this tweet.”

It also tweeted a link which goes to an internet page which put two questions—Do you have any hope from the existing political parties? Should Annaji provide a political alternative to the country?

Team Anna had on July 31 appeared opposing UPA in the next Lok Sabha elections, saying its mission is to ensure that “new and apt people” come to power in the 2014 polls.

“This mission will not stop till the 2014 elections, till the time new and apt people come in power. We have to go till the end which is 2014 when the people with Anna's blessings will come to power. Till then, our responsibility is to spread these words,” its member Kiran Bedi had said.

Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai have refused hospitalisation despite their health condition worsening and a warning from police that organisers will be “squarely responsible” if anything happens to the fasting activists.

“All the three have repeatedly said that they are here for sacrifice. They will not get prevailed upon. They are very determined themselves,” Bedi said.

Hazare, whose fast entered the fifth day, held discussions with the three fasting activists and Bedi in the morning.

“We call upon Anna Hazare and all his associates who have been on an indefinite fast to give up on their expectations from this establishment.

“Instead, we call upon them to focus their energies on creating an alternative political force that is democratic, accountable, ethical and non-violent and capable of leading an electoral revolution to democratise and decentralise power and make the power structures of the country more accountable to the people,” they said.

Former BJP leader K N Govindacharya also appealed to Hazare and others to climb down from their “hardline” position and allow a peaceful solution to the present impasse.

“Both members of the civil society and the government should realise that they are working for the interest of the common man. No situation should be allowed to degenerate into a crisis since this would be unhealthy for democracy. My way or no way should not be a policy of either side.

“...We appeal to both sides to sit together and find an honourable solution to the present crisis. It is time for the civil society to join hands and find ways to resolve the issue,” he said.