Hazare threatens another fast; alters campaign strategy
Seeking to mount pressure on government, Anna Hazare on Tuesday threatened to launch another hunger strike from the last day of Parliament's Winter Session if a strong Jan Lokpal Bill is not passed by then.
Read Anna Hazare's letter to PM hereIn a significant shift of strategy, Hazare made it clear that in the proposed campaign in five election-bound states, Team Anna will not canvas against Congress unlike it did in Hisar bypolls last month and would rather appeal to people not to vote for "corrupt, goonda and looters".
The 74-year-old activist shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a day after it was announced that the Winter Session could be from November 22 to December 23.
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Image: Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare
'I will not ask people to take sides during poll campaign'
Hazare said responsible people in government and Congress were making remarks that create doubts about the passage of the bill to which he took exception.
"I will begin my hunger strike agitation on the last day of the session, if the Jan Lokpal Bill is not passed in the House and the team will tour various states to educate people about the issue," he said noting that he had suspended his earlier agitation following an assurance from Singh.
Hazare, who called off his 12-day hunger strike in Ramlila Maidan in August 28, said his team will also travel to various states to "educate" people about the need for a strong Jan Lokpal Bill when he resumes his fast.
"In the five states where elections are to be held, I will ask people, without taking any sides, to vote for good candidates and not for corrupt, 'goondas' and looters," he said.
Image: A Hazare supporter takes part in an anti-corruption rally
'No reason for frequent warnings'
The government wondered why Team Anna keeps on issuing warnings when the Centre has repeatedly announced its commitment to bring a strong Lokpal Bill at the earliest.
"This has been said by Anna and his associates many times. Before campaigning against Congress in Hisar also, they had said that they would compel the government to bring Lokpal bill...I do not know why they are making such statements when there is no need to compel the government for it," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told mediapersons in New Delhi.
Soni said a number of Cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister himself has said that we all want to a powerful Lokpal Bill. Standing committee examining is also speeding up its work in this direction by holding extra sittings.
"There is no indication that there will be any delay in bringing the bill. When the government has reiterated its commitment to the bill so many times, I fail to understand what is the reason for their issuing warnings frequently," she said.
Image: Supporters of Anna Hazare protest in New Delhi
Hazare to discontinue 'maun vrat' to have open discussions with supporters
In his letter, Hazare, who is observing vow of silence in Ralegan Siddhi since October 16, reminded Singh that he called off his hunger strike in August following a written assurance from him, which was conveyed to him by Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.
"If an effective Jan Lokpal Bill is in place, it would help the country to get rid of corruption and also help utilise more funds towards development work," he said.
The activist on Monday indicated that he might end the 'maun vrat' over the next couple of days as he wants to hold "open discussions" with his supporters.
Image: Hazare waves to his supporters after receiving a letter from PM Singh by Union Minister Deshmukh at Ramlila grounds in New Delhi
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters