New Delhi: The standoff between Team Anna and UPA government continues as the indefinite fast launched by key aides of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare at Jantar Mantar yesterday, enters in its second day on Thursday.
While the Team Anna continues to press for a high-level independent probe against Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and 15 ministers of his cabinet, the government has also not moved even an inch saying, there will be no parleys with Anna Hazare’s group.
Campaigning for a strong Lokpal Bill, key Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai, under the leadership of Anna Hazare, yesterday started their indefinite hunger strike.
The Gandhian, who has been advised by doctors not to go ahead with fast, had announced that he will join his teammates on fast from July 29 if the government fails to take a decision on their demands.
Braving the hot weather conditions, Team Anna supporter started pouring in at the Jantar Mantar amidst shouting of slogans like ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, ‘Vande Mataram’, ‘Inquilaab Zindaabad’ and some patriotic songs sung by members of India Against Corruption (IAC).
During the day, an untoward incident also happened when some men, allegedly belonging to the Congress-affiliated National Student`s Union of India (NSUI), tried to disrupt the protest as Anna and his team came on the stage. But, NSUI leader Rohit Chowdhary later denied any hand in the ruckus.
Though support poured in from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana to the protest venue, people’s response to the agitation was low key.
Taking advantage of the situation, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid suggested the activists should "write to the United Nations." If they are unhappy with the central government’s functioning.
He said, "They want an independent probe into matters which have been rejected and disapproved by the Supreme Court." On the other side, Kerjriwal said Team Anna plans to use the fast as a platform to share evidence collected against the ministers it has accused of graft.
The Team Anna members faced a severe backlash from politicians and others who accused them of making unsubstantiated charges.
The turnout today at Anna`s camp was small compared to the sort of crowds he gathered last August, when he held a 16-day long hunger strike in Delhi to demand new legislation to tackle corruption. Largely because of his efforts, the Lokpal Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in December, but has not cleared the upper house or Rajya Sabha.
Anna yesterday accused the government of cheating the nation on the Lokpal issue and raised doubts over its intention to bring a strong anti-graft legislation.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal will today depose before a local court in Bulandshahr in connection with his derogatory remarks against MPs.