Team Anna sprung a surprise on Tuesday when Anna Hazare announced that he would go on a fast, contrary to previous announcements. This put the government in a spin since it was banking on Hazare playing a supportive role with other members like Arvind Kejriwal leading the fast protest at Jantar Mantar from Wednesday.
The prime minister’s office (PMO) responded with alacrity and released a statement listing the anti-corruption measures that has already been initiated by the UPA-II government.“I will wait for four days and see how the government responds. Then on the July 29, my hunger fast will start. Even if I have to give up my life I will not stop,” Hazare said.
All Team Anna members leveled charges of “betrayal” on the government for its inability to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill. “The government had betrayed us time and again. Over the last year, the joint committee, the parliamentary standing committee and even parliament betrayed us.When we declared the fast, Salman Khurshid was sent to me to betray us and create a rift among us,” Hazare said.
Arvind Kejriwal argued that the fast was necessary to pressure the government on the pending Lokpal Bill.“We gave it a thought that why is the government not agreeing to a Lokpal bill. Then we realised that when 15 cabinet ministers themselves have extremely strong corruption charges against them, then how they can implement the bill. So this time one of our demands is that an SIT comprising three honest retired judges should be set up to investigate the charges against the 15 ministers.”
“The least we expect is that the government should agree to this demand,” said Prashant Bhushan.
“There should be fast track courts set up to investigate the corruption charges against all party presidents who have CBI cases against them and the 162 Lok Sabha and 49 Rajya Sabha members who have serious charges leveled on them. This court should deliver in six months,” Kejriwal added.
“It is in the interests of the government to come out clean. No one is declaring them guilty… all we are asking for is an independent inquiry,” said Kiran Bedi. Bhushan emphasized on the grave nature of corruption in the country by saying that “the country is heading towards a civil war”.
Wednesday’s fast coincides with Pranab Mukherjee’s swearing in as President. Commenting on the corruption charges against Mukherjee, Kejriwal said, “It is unfortunate that a corrupt man is going to be the president. The constitution makes the president immune to inquiry or investigation. There should have been an inquiry against him first and only then he should have been considered for the post..”
The team will on Wednesday visit Rajghat first and then head for Jantar Mantar where Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai will sit on an indefinite hunger strike.