New Delhi: With anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare all set to observe a day-long fast at Jantar Mantar on Sunday to press for a strong Lokpal Bill, all eyes will be on Delhiites as to whether they will come forward in huge numbers to support the fight for Lokpal Bill.
It will be D-day for Team Anna as their agitation for a strong anti-graft bill at Mumbai’s MMRDA ground last year 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.
On Sunday, Anna Hazare, along with yoga guru Baba Ramdev, will sit on a day-long fast at Jantar Mantar to demand that Parliament pass the Lokpal Bill and a stronger whistle-blower protection programme under the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Team Anna is leaving 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 is working overtime to ensure that their Sunday protest at Jantar Mantar is a success.
’Present Lokpal Bill not strong enough’
Addressing a press conference after the all-party meeting called by the Prime Minister on Friday failed to arrive at a consensus, Anna Hazare said, “Twenty-five people fighting against corruption have been killed. The government is insensitive on this. We will sit on dharna on March 25 at Jantar Mantar to seek protection of whistleblowers.”
Claiming that the present Lokpal Bill was not strong enough to stop corruption, he said that it was sad that the all-party meet failed to break the deadlock over the issue.
“We will go to the people and could even protest at the Ramlila Maidan. The Assembly polls in five states are a clear indication about the people`s feeling. We will continue our agitation for a strong Lokpal Bill. If required we will sit on fast again," he said.
Hazare further stated that he and his team will build public opinion against the government`s "useless" Lokpal Bill.
"We are not fighting against the government but for the better future of citizens of this country. People want the Lokpal Bill and they are enthusiastic about it," he told reporters.
Hazare also criticized the government saying it said yes to our bill (Jan Lokpal) in the joint committee, standing committee and even in Parliament, but reversed the decision suddenly.
At the all-party meet of Rajya Sabha members it was agreed upon that the government will work for a consensus on the wording of contentious aspects of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill during the intervening period of the Budget Session.