New Delhi: Gandhian Anna Hazare on Sunday asked the Congress-led UPA government to introduce an all-powerful Lokapl Bill or be prepared to go in 2014.
Broking his one-day token fast, he asked the people to "keep up the pressure" on the government for passing a Lokpal Bill mirroring his Jan Lokpal bill.
"The government's intention is not to pass the Jan Lokpal bill... But one day they will have to do it because the public has woken up," Hazare thundered before he broke the fast at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
The anti-corruption activist demanded a stronger whistle-blower protection provision.
At least 15 people, who tried to blow the lid on scams or fought the menace of corruption in other ways, have been killed since 2010, according to Team Anna.
Hazare’s fast was attended by his core team members Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Santosh Hegde and Shanti Bhushan.
As Anna fasts at Jantar Mantar, people have come forward in huge numbers to support the fight for Lokpal Bill.
These killings have brought to fore the need for a strong whistleblowers' protection system, under control of Jan Lokpal and Jan Lokayukta, it has said.
Earlier, on his way to Jantar Mantar Hazare along with his team members Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and others made a brief stop at Rajghat to pay homage to the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.
Before leaving for Jantar Mantar from Noida where he stayed overnight, Hazare termed the UPA government "deaf and dumb", which, he alleged, was turning a blind eye to whistleblowers who are being targeted while fighting corruption.
Referring to slain IPS officer Narendra Kumar, who was killed in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh while intercepting a tractor-trolley carrying illegally-mined stones, Hazare said the government has turned a blind eye to the common man's fight against corruption.
Team Anna’s agitation for a strong anti-graft bill at Mumbai’s MMRDA ground last year had turned out to be a flop show.
Notably, Team Anna during the month of April last year – when they started their agitation for Jan Lokpal Bill from the national capital – was successful in garnering support.
The good show and support continued in August as well when Anna Hazare was arrested and people followed his appeal for ‘jail bharo andolan’, which saw thousands from all walks of life willingly going to police to be sent to jail.
The good show didn’t stop there and as Anna was released from Tihar Jail, he went ahead with his fast at Ramlila Maidan. There too, people turned up in thousands. The nation witnessed a revolution of sorts with people pitching in from various parts of the country.
The pressure was such that the establishment had to bow to the power of democracy and Union Minister Pranab Mukehrejee announced in Parliament that a strong Lokpal Bill will be passed with amendments agreed with Team Anna.
However, Team Anna lost the plot midway when they started campaigning against the Congress party in Hisar by-elections, a decision which till date hurts them. The open criticism of the Congress leaders and not a single attack on other political parties, especially the BJP, somehow left doubts in people’s mind as to whether Team Anna’s fight was apolitical.
Then came the month of December. The entire political class debated the Lokpal Bill in the extended Winter Session of Parliament, but no consensus was reached.
Team Anna had shifted to Mumbai due to the winter chill in Delhi to agitate in the financial capital, but their decision backfired as hardly any Mumbaikar turned up at the venue. The situation was such that an ill Anna had to call off his fast mid-way.
The Budget Session is now underway and the government had promised that an effective bill will be passed in this session. However, it doesn’t appear to be so as the all party-meet chaired by the Prime Minister failed to arrive at a consensus.
Team Anna has left no stone unturned to bring in people to support the fight for Jan Lokpal Bill. Street plays, pamphlets to drum up support and a series of meetings to form teams of volunteers and take care of logistics -- Team Anna worked overtime to ensure that their protest at Jantar Mantar is a success.
First Published: Sunday, March 25, 2012, 08:42