With the August 16 protest deadline drawing closer, the Anna Hazare team has taken its referendum on the Lokpal bill online to mobilize support and create awareness. The team has already done surveys in various parts of the country including the Chandni Chowk parliamentary constituency. The results for the Delhi poll will be announced on Monday.
“We have hosted an online questionnaire to mobilize support for the Jan Lokpal Bill. The main aim is to create awareness among people,” activist Arvind Kejriwal said.
The team – led by Gandhian Anna Hazare – is gearing up for a confrontation with the government. An indication of the government’s attitude towards the proposed hunger protest announced by Hazare came recently when the police asked Team Anna to look for alternative venues if they were expecting more than 2,000 people.
Responding to the police’s concerns, Hazare said, “If you don’t let us protest at Jantar Mantar, then tell us another suitable place. If there is some good place where there are facilities for all the people who join the protest, then we have no problems. The issue is that corruption needs to be rooted out. We are not worried about the venue.” The group is expected to meet on Tuesday to decide on a plan of action which could mean courting arrest at Jantar Mantar, holding the protest at an alternative venue or even approaching the courts for protection.
Hazare’s remarks came as Delhi Police suggested that he look for an alternative site in the city’s outskirts like Burari in north Delhi or Ajmal Khan Park in west Delhi if he wanted to go ahead with his protest for more than a day.
Reacting to the Lokpal bill cleared by the Union Cabinet last Thursday, he said the legislation was weak. “This is cheating. People will teach them a lesson,” Hazare said.
In a letter to the Hazare team which sought permission for the protest starting from August 16, police have asked them to clarify how many days they propose to sit on dharna and the expected number of people who will gather at the protest site. Kejriwal, however, said the police was still to send any formal communication on the issue.
Meanwhile, there appeared to be some difference of opinion within the Hazare group over the protest. Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde said Anna Hazare’s next movement should be different from the one in April when he sat on a fast-unto-death. Asked whether Hazare should start a movement again, Hegde said there should be another one but it should be “somewhat different from what took place from April 5. We must go around
the country to impress upon people the need to have a strong Lokpal”.
“They (people) have been taken for a ride. I don’t use the word cheated because it is
different,” he said when asked if the people had been “cheated” on the Lokpal issue with the Cabinet approving a draft of the bill ignoring key demands of the civil society representatives.