Anna asks political parties to join his fight

Hazare has also threatened to launch a Jail bharo aandolan if a stronger version of the Lokpal bill is not passed in ongoing Winter Session.

Last Updated: Dec 11, 2011, 23:52 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Gandhian Anna Hazare on Sunday threatened to intensify his anti-corruption protests if the government failed to pass a strong Lokpal Bill in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.

"The government should listen to the voice of the people. Agitation will continue for a strong Lokpal," said Hazare ending a day-long symbolic fast at Jantar Mantar.

"We will come to the streets for a larger campaign. Let us see how the government does not listen to us," he added addressing a huge gathering.

Hazare has also threatened to launch a jail bharo aandolan if a strong Lokpal Bill was derailed by the government.

"Not a single jail should be left empty, such will be our campaign," he said amid thunderous applause from his cheering supporters.

In a rare occasion, Hazare, who always maintains himself as apolitical shared the dais with leaders of non-UPA parties who debated in favour of an effective ombudsman.

Arun Jaitley (BJP), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), AB Bardhan and D Raja (CPI), Brinda Karat (CPI-M), K Yerran Naidu (TDP), Pinaki Mishra (BJD), Ramgopal Yadav (SP) and SS Dhindsa (Akali Dal) participated in the debate. However, Congress and other UPA constituents chose to stay away.

The anti-corruption crusader requested the political leaders to fight for a strong Lokpal inside the Parliament. “You fight inside parliament, we will fight outside”, he said. "If the government disagrees you should join us in street protests," he added.

The political leaders promised the Gandhian that they would do their best in Parliament to press for a strong and effective Lokpal Bill.

Most of the leaders concurred with Anna`s demands for inclusion of Prime Minister, lower bureaucracy and CBI`s anti-corruption wing to be included in the ambit of Lokpal.

The leaders, however, made it clear that the Parliament will take the final call on Lokpal and civil society cannot expect all its demands to be accepted.
Most of the leaders did not favour bringing higher judiciary under the ombudsman and argued for a separate mechanism to check corruption in it.

Before winding up his fast, the Gandhian launched a scathing attack on the government saying it was "intoxicated" by power.

He alleged that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not able to take any decisions and that no one listens to him.

The noted social activist also came down on Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi once again saying he dreams of becoming the PM but spending "one day" in a hut is just not enough.

Hazare also reiterated his warning to the government to go on an indefinite fast from December 27.

Meanwhile, Congress hit back at Hazare saying his campaign at Jantar Mantar insulted the Parliament.

"Laws cannot be made at Jantar Mantar. I have no hesitation in saying that Annaji is insulting Parliament," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said. Irked by the presence of a plethora of leaders from opposition parties, Alvi said, “It is nothing but coming together of detractors of the party and the government.”
Parliamentary Affairs Minister PK Bansal went on to add “Parliament was paralysed by people sitting on the dais with Hazare. They want to show the world that they are against corruption. This is time-pass for them."

Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman reacted, "Political parties expressing their opinion on an important issue like Lokpal is utilising democracy."

"A debate anywhere is normal," she said, adding that "the issue should not be confined to parliament".