As the Manmohan Singh led UPA government keeps playing hide and seek with rights activist about the details of draft bill committee, the number of people at the Jantar Mantar is constantly going up and above. The numbers at the Jantar Mantar alone have jumped at least five times in three days with thousands of Anna Hazare supporters increasing joining every day. The number of people sitting on indefinite hunger strike across the country along with Anna Hazare has increased to 155. The people following India Against Corruption through various modes of communication and networking has crossed a million. The likes of the Facebook page of India Against Corruption has more than doubled to around 80,000 in two days. The live tweets supporting Anna are in hundreds and counting.
Here, at Jantar Mantar it’s around 6 in the evening. Over last 6-8 hours at least 5-7 thousand people have been around at any point of time, even as people keep coming and going back. Basic facilities and drinking water tankers have been brought to cater to the ever increasing crowd as hawkers and tea and food stalls are doing brisk business. Hundreds of others men and women can be found sitting in groups of five to ten and voicing their anger to each other.
The mood is more charged than ever. The speeches have become fiery. The slogan shouting has become shriller. And the anger is visible as hordes of people from the whole cross section of society keep coming to Jantar Mantar in Delhi and other parts of the country.
Never before did our generation witness the lines of identity along regional, religious, caste and even class so blurred. It’s become a movement where those who come by car and those come on foot sit together. It’s become a movement where Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Jains all dance together. It’s become a movement where students and youth from various universities and schools shout together. It’s become a movement where all the activists from across the country and abroad are working for once common cause: wiping corruption out.
What the activists say
Till a day after Anna Hazare sat on the indefinite hunger strike, the government said that it can’t include members from civil society in the Lokpal Bill drafting committee. Talking about it, yesterday in a debate on NDTV’s “Buck Stops Here”, noted human rights activist Medha Patekar who is holding fast in Mumbai said that there is nothing unconstitutional about bringing members from civil society in a bill drafting committee. On the government saying that this exception would set a wrong precedent she said that involving people in deciding nation’s fate can’t be a termed a wrong precedent. In another show “India at 9” on CNN IBN7, Right to Information (RTI) activist Arivind Kejriwal said that there are at least ten occasion when government has taken members from civil society and incorporated their views in various bills earlier. Why the government is resisting it this time? Kejriwal said, “If there would have been an effective Lokpal Bill, many members of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee would find themselves behind bars. The government fears that many of its own people would be in trouble if such a law is brought.” Kejriwal also said that while they are not fighting against any individual, they can’t accept people like Kapil Sibal who gave A. Raja a clean chit in 2G scam. Due to criticism from activist chair of the group of ministers to draft the Lokpal Bill, Sharad Pawar resigned and said that he won’t return to the panel.
The government’s stand
The government today appointed Kapil Sibal to talk to the activist. Two rounds of talk have not yielded any result on which both the side could agree. The government today said that it was ready to have half members from the civil society in an informal Lokpal Bill drafting committee but it won’t issue a notification for the same. A notification would make it mandatory on the part of the government to accept the recommendation of the committee. The activists have rejected the offer of the government. Speaking from the dais Arvind Kejriwal said that the very intention of the government is to misguide the country.
The representative of the government will meet the activist tomorrow morning again.
As the numbers of people supporting Anna Hazare are increasing like a wild fire and media is broadcasting the issue live on TV, there hardly seems any hope for the government. The movement is going to become stronger in the days to come. Tomorrow, members of Delhi Bar Association will work half day wearing black ribbons. The lawyers would come to Jantar Mantar in the second half to express solidarity with the nation in the fight against corruption.
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