Tag Archives: anti-corruption movement

Anna gives up fast, but not fight

“We’ll continue our fight against corruption with voters’ awareness programme’

With serious concerns rising over his health, 74-year-old Anna Hazare on Wednesday cut short his three-day hunger strike for an effective Lok Pal Bill, and also deferred a jail bharo campaign and gherao of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s residence.

“We will continue our fight against corruption with a voters’ awareness programme,” the social activist said after he abruptly called off the fast on its second day here.

“We need to change our strategy to fight corruption…we will tirelessly campaign against the people who have opposed a strong Lokpal Bill. Both during the coming Assembly elections and in the Lok Sabha elections two years down the line.”

Mr. Hazare who accepted juice from Pratidnya Patangare, a small girl from his village Ralegan Siddhi, appealed to the public to continue their support for the agitation, “In the last five months, the United Progressive Alliance government betrayed us … Considering the developments of the last few days and the way the government has presented us with a toothless tool for fighting corruption, I am convinced that they have no intentions of ever drafting a Bill that stops corruption.”

Mr. Hazare was suffering from a viral infection and even though his temperature dropped from 102 to 100 degree F, doctors strongly discouraged him from fasting anymore. He, however, continued with his protest until the surprise announcement midway through his fast on the MMRDA ground, which saw a slight increase in turnout on Wednesday evening after a lull in the public participation on day one.

Mr. Hazare, who addressed the media after ending his fast, accused Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram of having hatched a plan during his agitation in Delhi in August, to get him out of the prison and forcibly fly him to Pune — similar to the treatment meted out to yoga guru Baba Ramdev.

“The government first arrested me on grounds that the agitation will lead to violence and then released me within hours but their game plan failed since I saw through it.”

Mr. Hazare admitted that he had no reasons to oppose any party other than the UPA, “Congress has cheated us the maximum,” he said.

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‘Present Lokpal Bill a danger to democracy’

Social activist Anna Hazare who broke his fast on Wednesday, rejected the notion that lack of public support led to the agitation being called off. “I don’t have power or wealth. Still people are coming in big numbers and you will see them again when we campaign during elections,” he said.

After repeated questions on whether he felt ditched by the BJP, Mr. Hazare abruptly quit the dais, leaving Mr. Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia to field questions.

Alleging that the present Bill was a danger to democracy as it protected the corrupt instead, Mr. Kejriwal said: “This is only a UPA Bill as 55 amendments were proposed by the Opposition and only one amendment was accepted.

Nine other amendments that were accepted were that of the ruling party. And an amendment is designed to weaken the Bill.

From removing the Army from purview of the Lokpal to abolishing the 6 month deadline to resolve complaints,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

Counting the amendments that Team Anna wanted in the Lok Pal Bill, Mr. Kejriwal said: “The CBI has been misused by the government to harass the Opposition and must be set free. The selection and suspension of the Lokpal should be in the hands of the public not a five-member committee of the government.”

He also insisted on the need for a citizen’s charter to outline stipulated time for any departmental work and providing the Lokpal, instead of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the infrastructure to give protection to whistle blowers

An escape route

Talking about the shortcomings in the Bill, Mr. Kejriwal said: “Earlier one could raid or file FIRs against the accused but now one will have to serve notice to the accused, showing the full evidence and giving the accused a chance to find an escape route.

“Moreover, the government will pay the legal fees for the accused. Only five percent of government employees come under the Bill but all registered bodies like private schools, colleges, clubs, societies, religious groups and non-governmental organisations will be under the purview.

‘No respect for the public’

“For nearly 9 months people are on the streets but the government has sent a message that it does not care for the public.”

“Our elected representatives do not consider the public’s demand but follow the wishes of the party high command…from Britishers the rule has passed on to the party high command and we now have a long fight ahead of us to get freedom in the true sense.”

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Anna ki Rasoi: pehle pet pooja phir kaam dooja

Bags of potatoes, flour, sugar and rice are stacked to the roof at the shed that works as, “Anna ki Rasoi” the kitchen that’s feeding thousands of supporters fresh food free of cost.

The kitchen at the Bandra Kurla complex charged no money for feeding anyone and followed a strict ‘no counting’ policy. “I don’t know how many people have come or how much ration has been consumed,” Swami Param Chinatain from Jan Sewa Sansthan, Rohtak said. The Sansthan along with Mumbai’s Sri Giri Raj Sewa Samiti have made the generous arrangements. “Why should we count, our only aim is that every person has his fill at every single meal. We were with Annaji at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi and we would go with him wherever he goes,” Swami Param Chinatain said. Member in-charge of disposable plates estimated that over 20,000 people ate at the kitchen.

The day started with an endless supply of hot tea and ‘poha’ for breakfast and without any break between meals the 60-member kitchen staff started to serve ‘dal,’ ‘alu matar,’ poori and rice to thousands of supporters. Five men sitting in a row mechanically toss poories, passed to them from the poori-rolling team sitting behind, in massive vessels with boiling oil, to ensure that the long queues get fresh food without any wait.

The size of cooking utensils seemed small when compared to the dedication with which the culinary service was executed. “There is a saying — pehle pet pooja phir kaam dooja : the protesters need to shout loudly so that the voice can be heard by Parliament, so they need to be well fed,” a cook said as he turned a plate of heaped sugar into a drum of boiling water.

Kadam and his family left their home in Thane early morning to participate in the protest. “My wife was worried how the children would eat, what if it was not clean? So we carried tiffin with us but we had breakfast and lunch at the Rasoi as the children liked poori more.”

“The is only one Anna and a handful of members in his team, but hundreds of people that are doing their small role as well…we are doing this as a support to Anna ji, he is a honest and selfless man trying change the country’s law so that corrupt men can be easily punished,” Swami Param Chinatain said. Reluctantly he admitted that the cost of Ramleela maidan was over 12 lakhs,”to talk of money spent on feeding people is belittling the emotion of the volunteers and the supporters.”

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Time we got freedom from corruption, says Anna

Despite a lower-than-expected turnout on the MMRDA ground at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai, social activist Anna Hazare launched his three-day fast with vigour, reiterating his willingness to sacrifice his life for a stronger Lokpal Bill.

“I want to remind the parliamentarians that they are meant to serve us, not loot us… now the public has woken up and we demand a strong Lokpall Bill so that the country can get freedom from corruption even if we have to sacrifice our life for it,” he told a gathering of nearly 10,000 people.

“After the agitation on the Ramlila Maidan, the Prime Minister promised me that the Bill will be a strong and effective tool against corruption, but the entire country has been cheated. They have no intention to pass a strong Lokpal Bill, because they fear that their own dark deeds will come under scrutiny.”

Mr. Hazare appealed to people to join the jail bharo andolan after the fast.

“Goons and criminals are entering politics … We have to ensure that our law-making bodies remain sacred. We will fight for the ‘right to reject’ so that the voter has the right to say that all the candidates are corrupt or undeserving and if the voter decides to cancel the election, all the candidates will be disqualified.”

Mr. Hazare vowed to campaign against the Congress in State elections scheduled early next year and in the general election, if the Bill that is ultimately passed fails to win his approval.

“Bigger than Parliament in Delhi is the Parliament of people… But bigger than both is the Parliament of the village. Voters of poll-bound States must punish the government for betraying the Lokpal Bill.”

Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal said the government was consciously trying to distract the public by raising unnecessary issues as they were not honest in their intentions to give the people a strong Lokpal Bill.

 

Earlier, Mr. Hazare kicked off his protest from the Juhu beach here in the morning.

The cheering crowd calmed down as Mr. Hazare sat meditating before the Mahatma Gandhi’s statue for a few minutes. He then mounted a decorated open truck with his associates for the rally to the MMRDA ground.

Only a few hundred people turned up at the beach. But as the rally moved to the MMRDA ground, people lined up on both sides of the road and waved at him.

Justice (retired) Santosh Hegde flew down from Mangalore to extend his support. “I am completely with Anna on the demand for a strong Lokpal Bill. In fact, there is no need for additional infrastructure. The Lokpal can use the existing machinery. All that the institution requires is an independent investigating agency that is not under the control of the government.”

Mr. Hegde rejected the government’s argument that there should be no parallel discussion outside Parliament once the Bill is introduced in the House. “We are equal to parliamentarians. Today, the people who are responsible for the Constitution have no voice. We have to discuss our views about the correctness of the Bill,” he told The Hindu .

Mr. Hazare’s motorcade was stopped by 15-20 members of the Republican Party of India (Athawale). They waved black flags at him during his journey.

“We are with Anna for weeding out corruption. But the Lokpal should not break the constitutional framework,” RPI president Ramdas Athawale told TheHindu .

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preparations on 2 days before the Anna Hazare fast

MUMBAI: In Mumbai, hundreds of volunteers gathered in the Bandra-Kurla Complex, the venue of the fast, to plan the protest amid police protection.

Over 600 constables marched to the venue to inspect the area, where they are to be deputed for the next few days. “At no cost should anyone be rude; politely ask people to cooperate so that there is no unpleasantness,” a group of constables was instructed at one of the corners of the 30,000-sqm ground.

Over 50,000 people are expected to turn up for the fast every day. “We are not going to register every person as it will be very difficult to keep a count. Only people observing fast with Annaji will be registered,” said Mayank Gandhi, Mumbai coordinator of India Against Corruption.

HUGE SUPPORT

Mr. Gandhi said while there had been a huge support for the movement, the IAC would not accept any financial aid from anyone this time round. “I am glad to say that people have volunteered to sponsor food, water, CCTV cameras, and rent for the venue. Within few hours of our submitting application with the MMRDA, people pledged over Rs. 70 lakh. But we are not accepting any cash or cheque this time.

“We have lived our lives under forced corruption; our only demand is that the government come up with a strong anti-graft Bill so that the coming generation will have a choice to be corrupt or not. We are still expecting the government to give an actual anti-graft law and that will be a victory for us and the country, but there is little hope from politicians,” one of the volunteers said.

“I am going to be here for as long as it takes … my business will get affected but the country has been hurt more,” Mr. Gandhi said.

OVER 84,000 REGISTER

In a related development, 84,487 people from all over the country had registered their names till now on http://www.jailchalo.com, website set up by the IAC for registering the names of volunteers who expressed their readiness to go to jail as part of its ‘jail bharo andolan’ slated for December 30, 31 and January 1 in the cause of the Jan Lokpal. Nearly 8,000 people from Mumbai and suburbs have got themselves registered.

“This number is going to increase, we were expecting people to start registering after the 27th, when Annaji is here and the fast begins, but we already have over 80,000 people,” said Radhika Prashad Dubey, who has taken up catering responsibility at the venue. “We have not tried to estimate the number of people, we will feed every person that comes here,” Mr. Dubey added.

 

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Lokpal Bill only offers free legal help to the corrupt, says Kejriwal

Vrinda Malik
Staff Reporter

MUMBAI: Arvind Kejriwal, key aide of Anna Hazare reached here on Sunday evening at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority ground at suburban Bandra-Kurla Complex. Amidst cheers, slogans and clapping the activist was welcomed to the venue by volunteers of India Against Corruption (IAC) where discussions were being held for the upcoming fast and Jail bharo andolan.

“Government has only labelled the bill as anti-graft, in reality the bill provides free legal help to the person accused of corruption. Instead of being strict on each act of corruption, the bill covers only five per cent of government servants and 10 per cent politicians and the strictness is only on NGOs, temples, clubs, schools… the present draft is a tool to ensure that nothing ever changes,” Mr Kejriwal said.

“We are a democratic country and everyone has the right to protest but protesting on an issue that is presently being discussed in the parliament is not appropriate.  Also team Anna is misdirecting the public sentiment against corruption to Lokpal, and encouraging people to participate in a badly conceived  plan which has no clear aim,” Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Sachin Sawant said.

Meanwhile team Anna has written an open letter, addressed to, “Respected Prime Minister and Members of Parliament,” the letter states that year-long people’s campaign has brought them to the very edge of legislation and sensing the national mood, Parliament has also taken it upon itself to foster a significant debate on the issues within the Bill, and for this we thank our elected representatives. While we are on record with our displeasure over the current draft of the bill, we are also keen that the best possible law should now emerge from the debate in the people’s Houses.

The letter goes on to state four provisions without which the law will be ineffective. The first provisions stated is that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas must be able to suo moto initiate their own investigations, without a complaint or reference from anyone. It should also not be required to alert the accused through preliminary enquiry or hearing before filing an FIR (this is as recommended by the Standing Committee).

The second provision states that anti-corruption branch of CBI should be merged into Lokpal, anti-corruption bureaus and state vigilance departments in state governments should be similarly merged into Lokayuktas or Lokpal and Lokayuktas should have their own investigative or the administrative and financial control over CBI should be with Lokpal and the appointment of CBI Director should be independent of any political control.

The letter further demands that election of the Lokpal should be through the consensus of the selection panel of Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition, two judges to be nominated by collegium of Supreme Court judges, CAG, CVC and CEC. Search committee to suggest nominees should consist of former Chief Justices, Former CAG, former, CVC and former CEC. And the last demand is that the Lokpal/Lokayukta’s jurisdiction should include Class C and D officers directly. (Eom)

 

 

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Arrangements apace for Anna’s andolan

Two days ahead of social activist Anna Hazare’s arrival here, volunteers of India Against Corruption (IAC) are gearing up for the fast, protest and the Jail Bharon Andolan. “We are designing the layout of the stage, tent, and parking space. We will soon finalise the design and then order the most reasonable contractors to erect the pandal,” a member of the team said. Meanwhile, the team is working to gather support via public demonstrations.

Khusvi Gandhi, 25, led a team of young volunteers who dressed as Santa Claus and wore Anna masks at Andheri on Saturday. “We will be carrying goodie bags full of Anna masks, Gandhi caps and jail bharo registration forms,” she added. Online petitions for the protest have doubled in the last day with the number of ‘jail bharo’ registrations reaching over 60,000 on Saturday evening; over 5,600 are from the Mumbai region only.

Asked whether the number of people willing to go to jail might become a nuisance for the police, a volunteer said: “That is the police’s problem. I feel a sense of pride that freedom fighters felt at the time of Independence. We had certain hopes from the Bill, now we feel cheated and we have decided to do something about it.” “Parliament has been hijacked by corruption and the substance of democracy is that people have a say and they need to be heard, inconvenience is just a civil disobedience,” another volunteer added. The venue of the fast is the G block of Bandra-Kurla complex.

The 48,000 sq. m. Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground has a capacity to accommodate over 60,000 people. However, the authority will be renting out 20,000 sq. m. for the rally and 10,000 sq. m. for parking. The MMRDA has specified December 26 for pandal installation and December 30 for its removal. Team Anna has paid Rs. 7.78 lakh as rent and Rs. 5.29 lakh as refundable security deposit for the rally.

Preparations for the event are in full swing. IAC sources said that at the venue, a room attached with toilet will be provided for Mr. Hazare, along with a cot and a continuous supply of hot water. The anti-corruption crusader has caught a cold and is convalescing at his village. IAC volunteer N. Srinivas, an architect, will design the stage. “There will be an invitee room for the Core Committee members and a visitors’ room. There will be separate rooms for security, medical and police personnel. Ambulance services will be present 24 hours a day. “A team of doctors, comprising volunteers, will be present. We will have an information centre, a media room and registration counters,” IAC coordinator Mayank Gandhi said.

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Bandra-Kurla complex will be Hazare’s protest venue

After a day of uncertainties over the venue of protest, volunteers of India Against Corruption (IAC) finally started preparations for the agitation at Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s (MMRDA) suburban Bandra-Kurla complex. “We are expecting 40,000- 100,000 people to join Anna ji in and we are coordinating with the volunteers to ensure that everything happens smoothly,” IAC member Mayank Gandhi said after filing a fresh application with the MMRDA on Friday.

The protest will start on December 27, when activist Anna Hazare will launch a three-day hunger strike, demanding that the Parliament passes his version of the Lokpal Bill. “Now we have the venue finalised so we have moved to the next stage of coordinating with volunteers and arranging for the entire event. Volunteers across the nation are registering themselves and willing to overcome every hurdle to come to Mumbai and support Anna ji,” Preeti Menon, another member said. Even before the venue was ascertained Team Anna was making announcements in public places including Railway Stations, Malls, city squares, outside colleges, beaches, and gardens about the fast and encourage citizens to join by signature campaigns, she added.

Meanwhile Team Anna has simultaneously launched an online campaign for their ‘jail bharo’ agitation from December 30 against government’s Lokpal Bill wherein people can register themselves for the protest. Besides online registration, people can also approach Team Anna through text messages and a missed call service. The website says, “To express your willingness to go to jail for the Jan Lokpal bill, please fill the form below on the right.” Since its launch on Thursday the website has had close to 30,000 registrations out of which close to 2,500 are from Mumbai region.

Demand for Gandhi cap

Amongst other preparation there has been a steep rise in demand for the Gandhi cap, Dnyanesh Raja Ram, who has been associated with the IAC movement since August has the task of providing Gandhi caps to the supporters, “The sale is slow right now- just 100-150 caps a day. I am expecting the sale to reach 30-32,000 caps when Anna ji is in the city.” Priced at Rs.10 each the caps have become a symbol of support for the agitation.

The policeexpects a large crowd to assemble at the complex. However no officer commented on the arrangements or their anticipation of the ‘jail bharo’ call.

Team Anna has used the online media to its maximum by offering free sms alerts, email updates, Nokia/Android applications and downloads of all drafts of the Jan lokpal bill.

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