New Delhi: Gandhian Anna Hazare on Sunday began his day-long fast at Jantar Mantar here to protest against the Lokpal draft prepared by a Parliamentary Standing Committee and to push for a strong Lokpal Bill.
Hazare began his fast at around 10:15 am at Jantar Mantar, the protest hotspot in the capital, surrounded by a number of supporters who waved the tri-colour, sporadically shouting slogans like `Vande Mataram` and `Bharat Mata Ki Jai`.
"My fast has begun. I will not speak much now," he told his supporters as he also chanted `Bharat Mata Ki Jai` and `Vande Mataram`.
Prior to starting his fast at 10 am, Hazare visited Rajghat - the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi – and paid respects to the Father of the Nation. The social activist will break his day-long token fast at 5 pm.
Addressing the supporters ahead of the commencement of today`s fast, activist Kiran Bedi said that people who had gathered would pray that the government gets "good sense" to make "amends" on the Lokpal issue.
"The Lokpal does not have investigative powers. The government has given nothing substantial for Lokpal and at the same time taken away the powers of CBI. We did not ask for this," she said.
Hazare arrived in the national capital yesterday and launched a vitriolic attack on the government saying that the Lokpal Bill tabled in Parliament was nothing but a “political fraud”.
“The Lokpal report prepared by the Standing Committee headed by Abhishek Singhvi is just an eye wash. The government has cheated the entire country. Is it a government or grocery shop?" said Hazare addressing a press conference in the national capital.
“The government’s Lokpal Bill has snatched the power of investigation from Lokpal and restricted it to that of a clerk. Then what is the use of the bill,” he said.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given in writing that citizen`s charter, lower bureaucracy and establishment of Lokayuktas in the states would be brought under the Lokpal Bill... The issues were brought up in Parliament and a copy of consensus was also sent to me. After which I decided to end my fast (in August). The PM`s letter was thrown into the dustbin,” he said.
Hazare has also announced an extended agitation at Ramlila Grounds starting from December 27 if the legislation is not passed in the Winter Session of Parliament.
With Team Anna signalling another confrontation on the Lokpal Bill and threatening to campaign against the Congress in the forthcoming Assembly polls, the government has convened an all-party meeting on Wednesday on the long-debated legislation that is slated to be taken up for passage in the Winter Session.