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Explained: The logic behind Hazare's token fast

Last updated on: December 11, 2011 19:59 IST

Explained: The logic behind Hazare's token fast

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Sheela Bhatt

Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare went on a token one-day fast on Sunday to double check the commitment of the non-United Progressive Alliance parties towards a strong Lokpal Bill. And clearly from the support he received at Jantar Mantar his mission was a success. Sheela Bhatt reports

Anna Hazare's movement against corruption and for a strong Lokpal Bill moved a step forward on Sunday at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. It was a political show of Hazare and the opposition leaders in front of a massive media contingent. According to a senior police official, more than 600 media persons gathered at Jantar Mantar to cover Hazare's token fast.

The lane adjoining Jantar Mantar was crowded. Although the crowd was moderate, their response was enough to send a signal to the government and the Congress party that Hazare's magic was not waning. There was a current in the air and any political leader knows why it could not be ignored.

While talking to rediff.com, most of Hazare's supporters, said that they would be back to support the Gandhian when he starts his proposed fast later this month.

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Image: Anna Hazare waves to his supporters during his day-long fast in New Delhi on December 11
Photographs: Reuters

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A retired bureaucrat said, "The rulers must not cheat after promising a strong Lokpal Bill. What's wrong if the Central Bureau of Investigation becomes independent from clutches of the Congress?"

Veteran Communist Party of India leader A B Bardhan said that even if the Lokpal Bill takes one or two years to become a law his party will make every effort to bring in a strong version. He spoke with a spirit to cheer up the crowd but when he hinted that creation of a strong Lokpal could be delayed they jeered him. It is clear that Hazare's followers are becoming impatient. The hooting from the crowd was so loud that Brinda Karat of the Communist Party of India-Marxist had to clarify what Bardhan meant -- political parties are totally committed towards a strong Lokpal Bill.

Congress leaders watching television from their homes must have gone in a tizzy. Those from Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar's camp told journalists in jest, "Anna is your creation."

On Sunday, Team Anna used the media to put pressure on the Parliament. Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley, Karat, Janata Dal-United leader and National Democratic Alliance convenor Sharad Yadav, Bardhan and CPI leader D Raja were all highly cautious as they sent out a message to Team Anna that there was a Parliament and there was a well-set procedure to make laws. But they also gave an assurance that they stood for a strong Lokpal Bill.


Image: CPI-M's Bindra Karat, Hazare and BJP leader Arun Jaitley at Jantar Mantar
Photographs: Reuters

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Jaitley spoke softly and clearly and told Team Anna that the basic issues of the Lokpal Bill are its soul. The BJP and the people on the dais are committed to it. He then advised Team Anna that they should leave certain decisions to Parliament. If the government doesn't follow the spirit of a strong Lokpal they will fight for it.

It's a known fact that the BJP and other parties who were present at Jantar Mantar disagree on many views of Team Anna. So, when the draft bill comes to Parliament, probably in less than seven days, it's possible that political parties will look into their own interests and preferences.

Team Anna has serious apprehensions -- as it is often seen in Parliament when a bill becomes a law without adequate debate or clarity -- a "weak" Lokpal Bill may be passed in a chaotic situation.

The logic behind Sunday's token fast was to double check the non-United Progressive Alliance parties commitment for strong Lokpal Bill and making their commitment public with more force and clarity.

The support of the NDA constituents and Left parties means a lot to Team Anna at the current stage of the movement when bureaucrats of the law ministry are working overtime to draft the bill. Surely, Hazare took advantage of the media to highlight many issues. In fact, a security officer standing near the stage said, "Public ab sikh rahi hai." (Hazare's movement is educating the public).



Image: CPI leader A B Bardhan addresses the crowd at Jantar Mantar
Photographs: Courtesy: India Against Corruption

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Explained: The logic behind Hazare's token fast

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Hazare's token fast succeeded in his mission to consolidate support of political parties for his demand for a strong Lokpal. 

The leaders of the BJP, Left parties, Biju Janta Dal, Janta Dal-United, Telugu Desam Party, Samajwadi Party spoke with force, particularly on the issue of giving independence to the CBI.

In no time, more than the issue of the prime minister under Lokpal, that of the CBI under Lokpal will become contentious. Hazare's supporters will not desert him till the CBI is made independent, completely. 

Congress leaders Pawan Bansal, Rashid Alvi and Rajiv Shukla spoke to the media on Sunday morning against Team Anna, but when the anti-corruption movement is slowly turning into the anti-Congress movement it is futile to target them and teach them what parliamentary democracy is all about. Now, the ball is in the Congress party's court.

 



Image: A supporter of Hazare holds the India flag during Hazare's day-long hunger strike in New Delhi
Photographs: Reuters

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