New Delhi: Hours after the government said it has started a dialogue process with Team Anna at various levels to end the impasse over the contentious Lokpal Bill, civil rights activist Anna Hazare on Sunday reiterated that he is ready for a debate on the bill against graft.
Accusing the government of betrayal on Lokpal at all levels, Anna said that the UPA has two options - either get the powerful Lokpal Bill passed (in the Parliament) or go.
He further questioned the government’s seriousness in tackling corruption.
Addressing thousands of his supporters at Ramlila Maidan, Hazare alleged that the government's intentions in creating an independent and powerful anti-graft watchdog were "not good".
The Gandhian warned of an unprecedented revolution in the country on August 30 if Jan Lokpal Bill is not passed.
On the sixth day of his fast against corruption, the 74-year-old Hazare said protests are the only way to get Jan Lokpal Bill passed.
Anna, who was arrested by the Delhi Police on August 16 and left Tihar Jail on August 19, said going to jail was blessing, not a curse. He further claimed that the government had earlier threatened to jail him.
Anna further said there was no blot on his character. The Army earlier in the day had said, “Anna never deserted the Army and has no record of punishment. He was honourably discharged from the Army on completion of service."
Calling his campaign against corruption as the beginning of "second struggle for Independence", the Gandhian asked the youth to keep the "flame of revolution burning whether Anna is alive or not."
Noting that he has been fighting against corruption for the past 20 years, Hazare said the government betrayed them on the Lokpal issue despite constituting a joint committee for drafting the Bill.
"They constituted a joint committee after my fast in April. But nothing came out of that meeting despite talking for two months. They betrayed the civil society.... The government's intention to fight corruption is not noble," he said.
Recalling the events leading to his arrest by the Delhi Police on Tuesday before he was to launch his indefinite fast at JP Park, Hazare said the police came and took him and some of his associates and later told them that they have been arrested. Hazare said, "We told them that we are not scared of getting arrested. Only people who commit crime are scared of arrest, people who go to jail for the cause of the nation are proud of getting arrested."
He said within hours after he was lodged in Tihar Jail, a police officer came to him and said that he was being released.
"I told him that I will not leave the jail until Parliament passes the Jan Lokpal Bill. I told him very clearly...," he said.
"The fight has begun now.... The youth should be ready for the fight," he told the gathering.
Hazare also recalled the struggle in the run up to RTI Act being passed in Parliament and said the legislation has now brought scams like 2G and Adarsh to light.
"They have been brought to light because of the RTI Act. We fought for the RTI Act. I have fasted on many occasions for many causes," he said.
Hazare said there was no "dark spot" in his life otherwise his opponents would have "broken my life".
Lawyer and Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan said the Prime Minister should be brought under the ambit of the Lokpal.
"The government says if the Prime Minister is investigated for corruption charges, the government will be shaken. But if the Prime Minister is corrupt and no investigation is done, this will be a great danger to the country's security," he said.
Bhushan also said the Team Anna was ready to talk to the Government, but would not compromise on its core issues. "We are ready to talk if they are ready. Our Jan Lokpal Bill has been amended 13 times. All suggestions have been included," he said.
He said that the government can incorporate main points of the Jan Lokpal in its Bill and if they suggest any better system "we are ready to discuss that also".
Bhushan also demanded that the government bring a strong Judicial Accountability Bill along with the Lokpal Bill.
(With Agencies’ inputs)
First Published: Sunday, August 21, 2011, 20:21