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Team Anna speak in different voices on indefinite fast

July 24, 2012 21:29 IST

Anna Hazare and his team on Tuesday spoke in different voices on the indefinite fast from Wednesday with the activist asserting that it is for Lokpal Bill while his aides said it is limited to their three demands, including a special probe into allegations against Union ministers.

Hazare served an ultimatum to the UPA government to decide on the issue within four days failing which he threatened to go on hunger strike from Sunday.

Hazare had earlier in the day announced that he will join other Team Anna members in the fast. Instead of fast, he will sit on a dharna, he said.

Earlier through a video message, he had called for a 'jail bharo' agitation if the government does not take action on the demand.

Questions were raised at a press conference about the demands of the team as Hazare spoke only about Lokpal bill while his close aides Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan talked about other three demands.

Asked to clarify the position whether Lokpal Bill is an issue for the protest, Bhushan said their protest is "limited" to an SIT probe against ministers, a fast track court to try cases against MPs and the SIT to go into allegations against party chiefs.

However, Hazare immediately took the microphone and said "the fight is for Lokpal Bill" and went on to add that till the 15 ministers against whom they have raised allegations are jailed if they are guilty, the country would not get a strong anti-corruption mechanism.

Kejriwal said the country would not get a Lokpal if the corrupt ministers did not go to jail.

In an apparent reference to news weekly that reported allegations of corruption against his close aide Suresh Pathare, Hazare accused the government of coming up with a fake CD to malign the movement. He also demanded a probe into the issue.

On the fast, Hazare said he was persuaded by his team not to sit on fast from Wednesday because of his health. "I have told my villagers that I will also sit on fast from tomorrow.

My blood pressure is also fluctuating. But the team told me that the fight is long and I should not fast now. I acceded to their wish.

"But I will wait till four days what the government does.

Then I will start my fast from Sunday," he said.

Team Anna had earlier announced that Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai would sit on indefinite fast.

"This is a fight to finish. Not to participate (in the fast), is not right. Till the government concedes, the fight will go on," Hazare said.

Kejriwal said they will not be fooled by false assurances this time.

Hazare also spoke about his recent secret meeting with Law Minister Salman Khurshid and claimed that he had told him that the government was willing to acceede to their demands for a strong Lokpal.

"He told me that the prime minister and Sonia Gandhi have given permission in this regard," he said.

Asked whether he is hopeful that the government will come up with a solution in four days, he said, "They have not done anything in the past one and half years. What will happen in four days, let us see."

On Ramdev's participation, he said the yoga guru had told him that he will join him in a couple of days as he is busy with the arrest of his close aide Balkrishna.

Queried about his views on allegations against Balkrishna, Hazare did not give a direct answer and only said, "I don't know about it."

Another Team Anna member Kiran Bedi said the government should come clean on the allegations raised against it and it is in its interest to do so.

Asked whether they will continue to fight against President-elect Pranab Mukherjee, Kejriwal said President has immunity from any kind of investigations.

"It is unfortunate that there are allegations against the President-elect. It would have been better if a probe had cleared him," he said.

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