Anna Hazare's fast enters Day 3
Social activist Anna Hazare's fast-unto-death entered the third day on Thursday even as a large number of people from various walks of life continued to extend support to the crusader for a stronger anti-corruption law.
72-year-old Hazare's protest has led to the resignation of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar from the Group of Ministers on corruption after the Gandhian took potshots at him.
Since the fast started on Tuesday, people from all walks of life including students, senior citizens, actors, executives and activists are converging at the Jantar Mantar, the hotspot of protests in the capital, to lend support to the movement.
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Additional Inputs: PTI
Image: A doctor checking on Hazare's health
Photographs: Courtesy India Against Corruption
'Politicians cannot share the dais'
However, some politicians like Ajit Singh, Uma Bharti and O P Chautala who wanted to make common cause with the social activist and share the dais with him were shouted out by his supporters and had to make a hasty retreat. Hazare said the indefinite hunger strike does not have a political tone.
Addressing press conference on the third day, Hazare said, "I personally apologise to Uma Bharti for the inconvenience to her. This is people's movement and politicians are welcome to sit amongst the people if they feel so strongly about it. They cannot share the dias. If the politicians are allowed to have their way then the movement would lose its dignity and they would try to use it for their political advantage."
Hazare did not take any questions from the media persons and appealed to the people to rebuild the India of yesteryears.
Image: Media persons at the protest venue
'I am fine. God is behind me'
"My first source of inspiration is Swami Vivekanand. There is no need to worry about my health; God is behind me. Anna ek aandhi hai; dusra mahatma Gandhi hai (Anna is a storm; he is the second Mahatma Gandhi) Such slogans have been raised by some people. I felt happy to sit at the feet of the great man, but there could be no comparison with him," Hazare said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on Wednesday discussed with some Cabinet colleagues the issue after which indications emerged that one or two ministers could be nominated to talk to the activist.
The general sense at the informal confabulations was that there was a need to defuse the situation that had arisen due to the fast-unto-death campaign launched on Tuesday which is getting support from the increasing number of people.
'We have not received any intimation from the government'
Asked if Hazare had been contacted by any one from the government, an aide of the activist said, "As of now we have not received any intimation from the government, we have read reports in this regard in the media only".
The aide said, "The fast was still on. Hazare is in perfect health".
Doctors are checking Hazare twice a day to keep a tab on his health.
Hazare had on Wednesday shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, slamming the reaction of his government and Congress to his indefinite fast on Lokpal Bill issue, and urged him to show courage to take unprecedented steps to fight the menace.
'Hazare can't be instigated into going on an indefinite fast'
Responding to Congress' criticism that his protest was "premature", he said authorities resort to "malicious slandering" whenever cornered and asserted that he was not a kind of person who could be "instigated" into going on an indefinite fast.
The activist is demanding enactment of Jan Lokpal Bill as the legislation proposed by the government was not adequate and lacked teeth. He has maintained that a joint committee, comprising representatives of the government and civil society, should be set up to firm up the bill.
Government has already set up a sub-group of four ministers within the Group of Ministers on anti-corruption to take on board the suggestions of civil society.
Hazare said he was not averse to dialogue but such discussions should take place with those who have power to take decisions.
'Dialogue only with PM or Sonia'
"When did we say no to dialogue. Dialogue should take place with those who have power to take decisions, whether (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi or Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh)," he said.
Hazare was of the view that there was no point in talking to any committee which has no power to take major decisions.
"They cannot take major decisions," he said in an apparent reference to the Group of Ministers on corruption.
"What we demand is a joint committee with 50 per cent representation from our side. Set up a joint committee and start drafting the Lokpal Bill," he said.
Meanwhile, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said Hazare's blood pressure was a little high on Thursday and doctors have advised him not to speak too much.
"He has been asked to take rest. Otherwise he is fine," he said, adding some of th activists on hunger strike along with Hazare have been taken to hospital for check-up.