New Delhi, Aug 21: Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Sunday warned of an “unprecedented revolution” in the country if the Lokpal Bill is not passed by August 30 and said the government will have to“either get the Bill passed or go.”
Accusing the government of “betraying” the civil society on the Lokpal issue, Hazare, whose fast entered the sixth day on Sunday, told a large gathering of his supporters at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi that the government is not “honest” in its intent to fight corruption.
“If the government does not get the Lokpal Bill passed by August 30 there would be an unprecedented revolution in the country by the people... The government will have to either get the Bill passed (in Parliament) or go,” he said after a large number of people marched from India Gate to the Maidan expressing solidarity with him.
Calling his campaign against corruption as the beginning of “second struggle for Independence”, the 73-year-old Gandhian asked the youth to keep the “flame of revolution burning whether Anna is alive or not.”
Noting that he has been fighting against corruption for the past 20 years, Hazare said the government betrayed them on the Lokpal issue despite constituting a joint committee for drafting the Bill.
“They constituted a joint committee after my fast in April. But nothing came out of that meeting despite talking for two months. They betrayed the civil society... The government's intention to fight corruption is not noble,” he said.
Recalling the events leading to his arrest by the Delhi Police on Tuesday before he was to launch his indefinite fast at J.P. Park, Hazare said the police came and took him and some of his associates and later told them that they have been arrested.
Hazare said, “We told them that we are not scared of getting arrested. Only people who commit crime are scared of arrest, people who go to jail for the cause of the nation are proud of getting arrested.”
He said within hours after he was lodged in Tihar Jail, a police officer came to him and said that he was being released.
“I told him that I will not leave the jail until Parliament passes the Jan Lokpal Bill. I told him very clearly...,” he said.
“The fight has begun now... The youth should be ready for the fight,” he told the gathering.
Hazare also recalled the struggle in the run up to RTI Act being passed in Parliament and said the legislation has now brought scams like the 2G and Adarsh to light.
“They have been brought to light because of the RTI Act. We fought for the RTI Act. I have fasted on many occasions for many causes,” he said.
Hazare said there was no “dark spot” in his life otherwise his opponents would have “broken my life“.
Lawyer and Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan said the Prime Minister should be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal.
“The government says if the Prime Minister is investigated for corruption charges, the government will be shaken. But if the Prime Minister is corrupt and no investigation is done, this will be a great danger to the country's security,” he said.
Bhushan also said the Team Anna was ready to talk to the government, but would not compromise on its core issues. “We are ready to talk if they are ready. Our Jan Lokpal Bill has been amended 13 times. All suggestions have been included,” he said.
He said that the government can incorporate main points of the Jan Lokpal in its Bill and if they suggest any better system “we are ready to discuss that also“.
Bhushan also demanded that the government bring a strong Judicial Accountability Bill along with the Lokpal Bill.
Hazare's remark came after the government opened a back channel with the Gandhian through a top Maharashtra bureaucrat and a spiritual leader from Indore Bhayyu Maharaj.
The two met Hazare and then had a late evening meeting with HRD Minister Kapil Sibal at his residence, even as hundreds of Anna supporters were shouting slogans outside the residence.
During his earlier address at the Maidan, Hazare himself expressed his willingness to have a dialogue on the Lokpal issue.
Maharashtra Additional Chief Secretary Umesh Chandra Sarangi, who visited Hazare on Saturday night, had a second meeting with the social activist along with Indore-based spiritual leader Baiyujji Maharaj. The spiritual leader is known to several top politicians from Maharashtra.
Sarangi has a good rapport with Hazare having handled several such situations in Maharashtra under former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh when he had either gone on fast or threatened to do so. His meeting was described as “personal” by Team Anna which maintained “no compromise formula” was discussed.
A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that the Government was open for discussion, Mr. Hazare said his campaign against corruption has not closed the door of dialogue with it to resolve the differences on Lokpal Bill.
“We have not closed the door of dialogue. We have kept it open. Only through dialogue the issues can be resolved,” he told thousands of his supporters on a humid day at the Maidan on the sixth day of his fast.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Harish Rawat said the Centre has initiated a dialogue process with Team Anna at various levels to break the deadlock.
“The dialogue process has already been initiated at various levels through well-wishers. This dialogue is at various levels which is not parallel to each other but complementary to each other,” Rawat told PTI in Dehradun.
The core committee of “India Against Corruption” movement had a meeting during which its deliberated Prime Minister's readiness to hold discussions. It said no proposal has come from the government so far.
“With whom and where should we discuss what,” Arvind Kejriwal, a key aide of Hazare, said announcing the five decisions taken at the meeting.
Late evening, Kejriwal informed supporters at Ramlila Maidan that the government had indeed sent a proposal, but none of the major provisions of Jan Lokpal Bill have been accepted.