The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday denied reports that its party men were shown the door when they paid a visit to Maharashtra-based social activist Anna Hazare, on the second day of his indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, demanding implementation of the Jan Lok Pal Bill.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters at 11 Ashok Road, BJP spokesman Tarun Vijay said he was "personally welcome by Anna Hazare sahib."
"He patted me on the back and asked me to continue the good work that the party is doing and the support our leaders had lent to the cause raised by Anna Hazare," he said. "It is wrong to say that our leaders were unwelcome. When I went to see him he was pleased. We would support anyone who talks of transparency in administration and corruption-free public life," he added.
Extending support to Hazare, former BJP President Rajnath Singh has urged the United Progressive Alliance government to take up the issue sincerely. "The present government lacks political will of ridding the society of corruption," Singh told rediff.com.
"The government needs to understand that the present scenario -- where scams after scams have taken place -- has reached a point where corruption not only presents a systemic risk to our economy, but also jeopardises the credibility of India as a country. The reaction of people like Anna Hazare reflects the deep pain and anguish that the common man is experiencing," he added.
Asked if the BJP would support the Lok Pal Bill introduced by the government or the Jan Lok Pal Bill of Anna Hazare, Vijay said that it will support the bill which will provide for effective mechanism to curb corruption and will be a deterrent to those who believe in corruption.
"Today, the entire country expects effective action against corruption, which has become cancerous. The BJP is of the view that such a popular wish must be respected and this is a constitutional obligation as well. The BJP wants that the Lok Pal Bill must become an important instrument of credible and effective action against corruption. Both political leaders and bureaucrats must be covered within its ambit. It is equally important that action in this regard must not be delayed," the spokesperson said.
The BJP also appealed to Anna Hazare to end his fast. "Anna Hazare is a respected Gandhian and we appeal to him to end his fast. As far as the Jan Lok Bill is concerned the goverment must undertake a dialogue with the activists and call for an all-party meeting to take prompt steps in this regard," said another top BJP leader.
Reacting to the news that Sharad Pawar had offered to quit from Group of Ministers drafting the Lok Pal Bill, Vijay said it was a welcome move. "It would provide ground to launch a prosecution against him for corruption," he said. The BJP spokesperson also commended the common people who have lent support to Anna Hazare.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley also urged the UPA government Anna Hazare's fast-unto-death seriously. "The Congress party and the UPA government should take this fast seriously and not take it to be merely politically motivated," Jaitley told reporters while campaigning in Guwahati.
"Fighting corruption is a must and the government should talk to all concerned for bringing up the Lok Pal Bill in Parliament," he added.
The Shiv Sena too came out in support of Hazare. "We are supporting Hazare's agitation in the public and country's interest," Sena chief Bal Thackeray said. However, on a pessimistic note, Thackeray said he was not aware "how many germs of corruption will be killed due to this spraying of pesticide of hunger strike."
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, independent member of Rajya Sabha, flew to Delhi from Bengaluru on Wednesday morning to extend his support to Hazare.
Chandshekhar praised Hazare's bold effort to fight corruption in public life.
"Just like there are revolutions all around the world, sweeping corrupt leaders out of the country, Anna Hazare is our leader and this is our revolution to give ourselves the India that our founding fathers had always dreamt of," he said.
Chandrasekhar urged all Indians to support Hazare in his fight for the Lok Pal Bill.