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Govt can stop Anna from fasting again, but...

Last updated on: August 12, 2011 21:32 IST

Govt can stop Anna from fasting again, but...

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has transmitted a subtle but strong message to Anna Hazare not to cross the government's line of tolerance since the government can exercise its option to clamp down on strikers.

The home minister while calling Hazare's indefinite hunger strike as 'unjustified' has asked Team Anna to sit with the government and hold discussions rather than go on a hunger strike.

Chidambaram was clear that it is the not just the duty but also the right of the government to protect its citizens and if it feels that anyone's life may be cut short, it can intervene and take corrective action.

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This is obviously being seen as a reference to the manner in which the government acted against Baba Ramdev, lifting him from the Ramlila grounds in the early hours of the morning and transporting him to Uttarakhand.

The fact that law and order may be affected is also an issue which the government has to keep in mind, said sources in the government.

While Hazare has been denied the permission to sit on a hunger strike at Jantar mantar, where he created a phenomenon last time around, this time around he may be given permission to sit on hunger strike at Jaiprakash Narain grounds near Ferozeshah Kotla grounds for a period of only 3 days.



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But a senior minister, who has been handling the Hazare issue, earlier said that the government is still looking at all the pros and cons of the issue and is not yet definite that permission is being given to the social activist to go ahead with the fast.

While the mood appears to be one of toughness, considering that the Lokpal Bill has already been introduced in Parlaiment, there is a section which feels that too much of toughness may turn public opinion against the government. They are hopeful that it will not become a big campaign against the government again.

A senior minister said that as far as the Constitution is concerned, it is within the rights of the government to decide whether to give space to such people to undertake fasts and then it is also the responsibility of the state to see that no one comes to any harm or that no unnecessary feelings are ignited or law and order affected.



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The Lokpal bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha August 4, was sent to the parliamentary committee for its consideration. But this draft did not include several key suggestions made by Team Anna.

On charges of not providing Jantar Mantar (in New Delhi) as a venue for Team Hazare's agitation, Chidambaram said, ''Anna's is not a special case. Jantar Mantar cannot be given for long protests, or to one group alone. As there are many other people with causes, the day has to be divided and the group given slots."

Interestingly, in his address on August 15 from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the prime minister is expected to address the issue and give an explanation to the nation on what it is doing about corruption, the Lokpal bill, price rise, terrorism and other issues, in order to pre-empt Hazare's hunger strike, which is scheduled to begin from August 16.



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