As Anna Hazare's fast enters the seventh day, his aides said they ‘cannot leave the government free to help corrupt people.' Anna rejects note brought by Maharashtra bureaucrat
Scotching rumours that social activist Anna Hazare would talk only to the Prime Minister or Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Team Anna members said on Monday they were open to dialogue with any authorised representative of the government or the Prime Minister.
“The Prime Minister has said there could be discussions but so far we have not received any concrete proposal from the government, nor has any initiative been taken by him or anybody else. There have been some informal feelers but nothing concrete has emerged,'' core member of Mr. Hazare's team, Arvind Kejriwal, told The Hindu.
Meanwhile, as Mr. Hazare's fast entered the seventh day, his supporters courted arrest outside the Guwahati house of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and other political leaders to press their demand for passage of an amended Lokpal Bill in Parliament by August 30.
Decrying the arrests, Team Anna said the protesters, who were carrying flowers, should instead have been heard out.
There were concerns at Mr. Hazare's health as he did not address even once the multitude of people who poured into the Ramlila grounds, the venue of his protest, on Monday. The anti-corruption crusader was seen lying down for the better part of the day.
In another development, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravishankar offered to mediate with the government. Earlier Maharashtra bureaucrat U.C. Sarangi had brought a note from the government, which was promptly rejected. “The note brought by Mr. Sarangi was nothing but a repeat of the provisions of the Lokpal Bill,'' said Mr. Kejriwal.
Team Anna also dismissed as “nothing'' attempts by a religious guru, Bhaiyyuji Maharaj, at mediation. The Maharaj said he was sent by the Prime Minister's Office but Mr. Hazare's team had no means of confirming his credentials or his claims. They were not backed by any message from the PMO.
Mr. Hazare's team said it had given copies of the Jan Lokpal Bill to Parliamentary Standing Committee Chairman Abhishek Singhvi, to his secretary and a few MPs. “If giving a copy of the Bill to the chairman during the meeting of the committee is not formal, then what is?'' asked Mr. Kejriwal in response to Mr. Singhvi, who said he had not “formally'' received anything.
To the huge gathering on the Ramlila grounds, Mr. Kejriwal said the government's version of the Lokpal Bill did not address the corruption faced by the aam aadmi.