Even as some of his demands have been addressed and deliberations on others are continuing, social activist Anna Hazare on Thursday said he would “fight till his death.”
Addressing the media and a huge crowd of supporters who gathered at Jantar Mantar here on the third day of his fast, Mr. Hazare said politicians did not want a Lokpal Bill because it would put a stop to their “loot” of the exchequer. “Now scams like 2G spectrum, Commonwealth Games and Adarsh housing are being exposed but the corrupt are not going to jail. We want a Lokpal Bill to jail the corrupt and get them hanged,” the activist said, much to the surprise of his supporters.
“You must be wondering why I am talking about hanging [the corrupt] despite my being a Gandhian. But the situation today is such that we should follow not only Gandhiji but also Chhatrapati Shivaji.”
Referring to the government's disinclination earlier to include civil society in a joint committee to be formed for framing the draft of the Bill, Mr. Hazare said Ministers should know that it was the people who were sovereign in a democracy. He dismissed a question on the reported presence, during his protest, of activists with right-wing affiliations, recalling his long and often lonely fight against corruption. “I have not sought the support of any political party till date.”
Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal, who acted as interlocutors, briefed the supporters on their discussions with Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and sought their opinion on the responses to be given. Swami Agnivesh said though he had been a regular participant in protests at Jantar Mantar for the past several years, Mr. Hazare's fast-unto-death was the most spectacular and well-attended effort till date.
Mr. Kejriwal derided attempts to portray the Lokpal as an extra-constitutional body. He said the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by civil society was clear that the Lokpal's task was only to investigate offences and submit a charge sheet/report which would then take the course of law through trial courts and higher courts. He said the Bill had also listed clear provisions to remove the Lokpal through the intervention of the Supreme Court.
According to “India Against Corruption” volunteers, the number of people who have joined Mr. Hazare in his fast-unto-death has risen to 210. Three persons fainted and had to be given medication on Thursday.
“In good health”
Dr. Praveen Sharma, a neurosurgeon from Mumbai, who has been monitoring Mr. Hazare's health, said the septuagenarian was in good health and his vital statistics were normal.
Dr. Sharma said he was more worried about the condition of the other satyagrahis.