New Delhi, Aug 24: Social activist Anna Hazare, into the 9th day of his fast unto death, declared on Wednesday that he would fast till his ‘last breath', until and unless the government accepted the remaining 3 major demands.
The demands are: (1) Putting all central government staff from top to bottom under the ambit of Lokpal (2) Setting up of Lokayuktas in all states and (3) Citizens Charter in all government departments detailing timeline for completion of work failing which staff may face punishment.
A weak-looking yet forceful Hazare addressed the gathering at Ramlila Maidan for fifteen minutes outlining the three main issues on which the talks between the government and Team Anna have hit a roadblock.
The government, it is learnt, has accepted Team Anna's demands for inclusion of Prime Minister within the ambit of Lokpal and setting up of a separate branch of CBI under the Lokpal to deal with corruption cases.
At the outset, Hazare said the government still lacked the intention to root out corruption. “I still don't see the intention or will in the government to root out corruption. They (govt) know if they accept all our demands, all scopes of corruption would then end”, said Hazare.
The 74-year-old activist told the gathering amidst applause that even on the ninth day of his fast, he was not feeling himself any the worse. “I have only lost six kgs. There is some problem with the kidney, but that is not a point to worry”, he said.
“I am in this condition because of the energy that I get from my countrymen”, he said.
“They (govt) fear if corruption is uprooted, their meals (scope for making money) will come to an end”, Hazare said amidst guffaws.
The defiant leader said, “corruption has to be rooted out right from the Centre upto the villages. Poor people are facing problems with government almost every day, in the matter of getting ration cards and other benefits. Nothing moves without speed money.
“Even if the common man finds out cases of corruption through the RTI route, the BDO, SDO and Commissioner do not take action, though they have the powers to act.
“There is this complete chain in the system which is corrupt. Our IAS, IPS officers can change the face of this country if they want within the next 10 years, compared to what happened in the last 64 years.
“IAS, IPS officers are selected by the President, just like the people elect their MLAs and MPs.
“I have spent my entire life in the service of the people. Serving the people is real worship, not sitting in temples and praying with eyes and nose closed. The people is the real God.
“The government is not at all ready to put its entire staff within the ambit of Lokpal, because it lacks the will and intention”, said Hazare.
“Secondly, every government office must display the Citizens Charter to give timeline for doing work related to the people. If they do not do their work within the required time, the Lokpal should be given powers to punish them.
“Thirdly, Lokpal is only for the Central government. There must be Lokayuktas for the state governments too, otherwise corruption cannot be rooted out.”, said Hazare.
“So long as the government does not accept these three remaining demands, I shall continue my fast till my last breath”, said the Gandhian leader.
Team Anna and government's chief interlocutor Pranab Mukherjee yesterday did not reach an agreement on three “sticky” issues—citizen's charter, inclusion of lower bureaucracy and setting up of Lokayukta in state through Lokpal.
“Yesterday, the government agreed to our demands but kept a decision pending on three issues,” a frail-looking Hazare told the gathering at Ramlila Maidan where he is sitting on fast.
“If the demands are not met, I have decided that I will fight till my last breath,” he said.
“From village to mantralaya, everyone should be brought under Lokpal,” the 74-year-old Gandhian said, adding “it has become very difficult for the poor to avail any service since the chain of corruption went from bottom to top.” He said from getting a ration card, kerosene and health services, nothing can be done without paying a bribe. “This chain has to be broken,” he said.
Team Anna has been demanding that the whole bureaucracy should be brought under the ambit of Lokpal while the government is of the view that only officers above the level of Under Secretary should come within its purview.
On the demand for citizen's charter, Hazare said government offices should display a board which gives details about the officers and what services will be available there. “It should specify in how many days you will get the service you seek. If any officer fails to provide the service in the time specified by the charter, he can be punished by Lokpal. It does not end here, Lokpal should also have powers to dismiss him,” he said.
Claiming that elected representatives and government employees were hand-in-glove in corruption, he said there was a need for a citizen's charter so that erring officials can be punished.
Hazare said he would not go back on the demand for ensuring the setting of Lokayukta at state-level along with Lokpal at the centre.
Meanwhile, concerns mounted over Hazare's health after he refused doctors' advice to be be put on an intravenous drip once again this morning even though he has increased his intake of fluid.
The 74-year-old anti-corruption crusader has lost another 200 grams in the past 24 hours with his weight settling at 66.2 kg. He was 72 kg before he began his fast on August 16. His blood pressure was recorded at 104/86 while blood sugar was 106 and pulse rate 82.
“After his intake of fluid was increased, his health has stabilised. We have put the team of doctors on full alert. We are keeping a strict vigil on his health,” Dr Naresh Trehan told reporters at the Ramlila Ground after examining him. Trehan, who along with his team is monitoring Hazare's health, said the Gandhian's water intake has been increased after he refused to be put on IV drips.
He said the doctors had asked Hazare to cooperate with them and take IV drip but he refused, saying his “inner conscience” does not allow him to do so. PTI