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Hazare, Maharashtra minister on collision course

August 09, 2003 22:42 IST
Last Updated: August 10, 2003 01:00 IST

After days of trading corruption charges against each other, both Kisan Baburao 'Anna' Hazare and Maharashtra Food and Civil Supplies Minister Sureshchandra Jain on Saturday embarked on a fast-unto-death to press for their respective demands.

The pandals set up by the duo are situated just a few metres from each other in Azad Maidan in south Mumbai.

Social worker Anna Hazare has accused four Nationalist Congress Party ministers, including Jain, of corruption and demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe.

On the other hand, Jain alleges irregularities in the running of public trusts headed by the noted Gandhian.

He said his fast-unto-death was to restore his self-respect.

Appealing to both to call off their agitation, Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said his government was prepared to announce a probe by a retired high court judge into the charges levelled by Hazare and Jain against each other.

However, on his arrival from Pune, Hazare told his supporters that he would not settle for a probe by a retired judge.

In a hard-hitting speech, Hazare said he has lost all faith in the Democratic Front government.

The social worker pointed out that while the chief minister says society needs people like him (Hazare), his ministers level charges of corruption against him.

He appealed to his followers to create awareness among the people about the agitation for a week and then court arrest to press their demand for a CBI probe.

Hazare was accompanied by former Mumbai police commissioner Julio F Ribeiro, editor of Marathi eveninger Mahanagar Nikhil Wagle and social worker Chandrashekhar Prabhu.

He garlanded noted freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak's statue at the Girgaum Chowpatty, visited Mani Bhavan (Gandhi Mamorial) and paid homage to martyrs at the historical August Kranti Maidan before beginning his fast-unto-death.

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