New Delhi, Apr 6: Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare today told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that insinuations that his fast was instigated were an "insult" to his wisdom, as political leaders wanting to make common cause with the social activist were shouted out by his supporters.
With the fast unto death by 72-year-old Hazare entering the second day, Government made attempts to mollify him but he showed no signs of calling off his stir after his campaign gained momentum in the Capital and other parts of the country.
After being targeted by Hazare, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said he would be happy if he was relieved from all Ministerial Panels including that on corruption.
When asked to respond to Hazare's remarks about him, Pawar said: "I will be happy if you relieve me from all Group of Ministers(GoMs), including that GoM (on corruption)."
Displaying a lack of trust in some members of the GoM, he had said "A minister like Sharad Pawar, who is known for possessing large amounts of land in Maharashtra, is heading a committee that will draft the Bill."
Hazare shot off a letter to the prime minister in which he said he was pained that the government, rather than addressing the issue of corruption, is trying to allege conspiracies when there are none.
Hazare is demanding enactment of an anti-corruption bill to give wider powers to the Ombudsman. He is pressing for formation of a joint committee comprising 50 per cent officials and the remaining being citizens and intellectuals to draft the Bill.
RLD chief Ajit Singh, INLD president Om Prakash Chautala and Hindutva leader Uma Bharti were prevented from meeting Hazare and share the dais with him after they reached Jantar Mantar separately. They had to make a hasty retreat.
Hazare also accused the Congress of "misleading" the people over his agitation.
Responding to criticism that his protest was "premature", Hazare in his letter to prime minister said he was not a kind of person who could be "instigated" into going on an indefinite fast.
"Dear Manmohan Singhji, this is an insult to my sense of wisdom and intelligence...I take advice from many friends and critics but do what my conscience directs me to do.
"It is my experience that when cornered, governments resort to such malicious slanderng. I am pained that the government, rather than addressing the issue of corruption, is trying to allege conspiracies when there are none," he said.
Hazare, however, said Singh is a "good man" who is not tainted by corruption. "Remote control se khadbadi hota hei. (The problems are created when a remote control operates ),"he said.
Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said the UPA government is "deeply deeply concerned" on corruption and that it will be open to all suggestions.
Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said the government was open to suggestions even though it was "anxious to introduce the Lok Pal Bill in the next session".
Hazare's crusade gained momentum with more members of the civil society joining him in the Capital and supporting his cause in other parts of the country.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said Hazare's campaign was "valuable" and the Centre's course of action is left to be seen.
Slamming the Congress, Hazare said," "The party's (Congress) statement is misleading people.Why is this agitation unnecessary and how is it premature? 42 years the nation has been in need of such a bill. Why can't the government enact it?" Congress had dubbed his agitation as unnecessary and premature.
Hazare insisted he would not end his fast unto death till the government agrees to have citizens' participation in the drafting of the Lok Pal bill.
Congress stuck to its stand that the agitation was premature as Government was open to all suggestions.
"The fast by Anna Hazare was premature and in a democracy debates should be held before a policy is framed," party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarjan said.
Hazare has slammed the Congress for "misleading" the people by dubbing his agitation as unnecessary and premature.
Natarajan said, "While many people won't agree on the Lokpal Bill and have different shades of opinion on the issue, the NAC and other fora are already discussing the proposed legislation.... the far reaching changes suggested by Hazare need broad discussions before a final draft can be arrived at."
At the same time, she added that "no time frame can be set" for taking such decisions as they require wider consultations.
In Maharashtra, Opposition Shiv Sena and BJP came out in support of Hazare.
"We are supporting Hazare's agitation in the public and country's interest," Sena chief Bal Thackeray said.
Hazare's agitation continues to receive strong support in his home state, with activists holding relay fast and holding demonstrations to show their support.
In Hazare's Ralegan Siddhi village in Ahmednagar district, his supporters are on relay-fast to show solidarity with the soldier-turned-crusader.
In Mumbai, activists of the 'India Against Corruption' movement are on a relay fast at Azad Maidan here, to support Hazare.
They are joined by several NGOs. PTI