fast at Rajghat, Congress and BJP at war
The aftershocks of Baba Ramdev's forced ouster from Delhi were
felt Tuesday as civil society activists led by Anna Hazare upped
the ante in the campaign on corruption while the Congress and the
BJP stepped up .
As Gandhian Anna Hazare Wednesday began a daylong token fast here
to denounce the police crackdown on yoga guru Baba Ramdev's
agitation, civil society activists accused the Congress-led
government of trying to scuttle the anti-corruption campaign in
In front of thousands of supporters at Rajghat, the memorial to
Mahatma Gandhi, the 73-year-old called it "the second independence
"We have started the second independence struggle but you should
not back off. We will be ready to die but we will not surrender,"
the Gandhian said, speaking in Hindi.
He said if the anti-graft Lokpal Bill was not passed by the
government, he would again launch an indefinite hunger strike Aug
16, a day after India's independence day.
"They are putting roadblocks on the path of the Lokpal Bill," he
said, and charged the government with trying to defame his
associates, including Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind
The Bhushans, Hazare, Kejriwal and Santosh Hegde form the civil
society representatives in a 10-member panel, including five
central ministers, to frame a tough Lokpal Bill.
With thousands shouting "Bharat Mata Ki Jai", singing a tuneful "Lokpal,
Lokpal" and devotional songs and holding placards, Hazare got on
to a raised platform and started his hunger strike at 10 a.m., his
second in two months.
In a hard hitting speech, Kejriwal said, "We are not here to
change the government, we want to change the system."
"Today we ask the Congress to put on the website all their income
and expenditure of the past six decades," he said.
Former top cop and activist Kiran Bedi said: "We need a stronger
law against corruption which can be trusted. The system should be
approachable. We will consider ourselves free only when India is
free from corruption."
In April, Hazare's five-day fast drew widespread support across
the country and forced the government to set up the joint panel to
draft a Lokpal bill to combat corruption.
Hazare Wednesday said the primary reason for his fast Wednesday
was to protest the police crackdown on Ramdev and thousands of
supporters here after midnight Saturday.
"The government should not have done at Ramlila ground what it
did," he said to repeated cheers from the thousands, many waving
the Indian flag.
"And they did it at 1.30 at night. They lathi charged sleeping
people. What injustice had they (people) done? It is a blot on
humanity. It was like throttling democracy."
Hundreds have come to support Hazare in his campaign here at the
Rajghat. A similar token fast is also being held in cities across
At Rajghat, people started arriving as early as 7 a.m. although
the fast was not to begin before 10 a.m. There was also a heavy
police presence at the site. The fast will go on till 6 p.m.
Vaibhav Kumar, one of the many young Anna supporters, said: "Just
like Gandhiji took the path of non-violence, Anna Hazare is doing
the same and we are supporting that."
One of the first to reach the venue was Kuldeep Singh of the
Bhrashtachar Virodhi Party who came with his friends from Punjab.
"We have come here to support Anna. What the government did at the
Ramlila ground was wrong and it should not have taken such a step.
Corruption is a big issue and we have the right to protest against
it," Kuldeep Singh told IANS.