While accepting the offer of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a dialogue on ending the impasse on the formulation of the Lokpal legislation, Anna Hazare on Sunday not only widened the agitation by calling on his supporters to confront individual Members of Parliament and Union Ministers at their homes but also warned the UPA government that its days would be numbered if it failed to pass the Bill by August 30.
Following up on the Prime Minister's offer on Saturday for talks, the Centre has launched a backchannel effort to work out a solution with the fasting anti-corruption crusader, but Team Anna said no formal approach had been made.
The government on Saturday indicated informally that it would like four months' time to take a decision on the matter after a thorough discussion, a suggestion Mr. Hazare's supporters turned down immediately.
Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal denied the possibility of any reconciliation. “They have not accepted even the smallest of suggestions made in the Jan Lokpal Bill. The government has just reworded the proposals already present in its Lokpal draft. There is no question of any pact with the government as of now.”
Mr. Hazare's supporters held a rally from India Gate to the Ramlila grounds, where Mr. Hazare's fast entered the sixth day, while several others — responding to the call of Team Anna — staged dharnas in front of the homes of several Union Ministers. At least 80 demonstrators were arrested when they sought to stage a sit-in in front of the Prime Minister's residence on Race Course Road.
Mr. Hazare addressed his supporters twice, in the morning and in the evening. In the morning, he said the doors were open for talks, but in his evening speech Mr. Hazare issued a warning to the UPA government.
He said the agitation would be intensified after August 30 if the government failed to pass the Bill. “The government will have to accept because the people have awakened. If not, you will have to go. You do what you want to, we too are prepared to launch an agitation which the country has not seen before.”
Earlier in the day, Mr. Hazare said the doors had not been closed for talks, expressing his willingness to hold talks with the government in response to the olive branch held out by the Prime Minister on Saturday.
He said the doors had been kept open and only through a dialogue could issues be resolved.
Mr. Hazare said even if the Prime Minister was brought within the ambit of the Lokpal, the Jan Lokpal Bill had to be taken up for consideration in Parliament and till the Bill was passed there would be no going back on the protest.
Meanwhile, in what is being viewed as a backchannel effort at talks, Maharashtra Additional Chief Secretary Umesh Chandra Sarangi interacted with Mr. Hazare twice during the past 24 hours, but Mr. Kejriwal maintained that nothing constructive had been proposed as a breakthrough.