Archive for ‘politics’

August 4, 2012

Home Minister Shinde to visit Pune today

Mumbai: Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is scheduled to visit the blast sites in Pune on Saturday. Image

Shinde is likely to review the security situation at a meeting with top officials here.

Four low-intensity explosions took place in the busy J M Road area in Pune on August 1.

Shinde, who took charge as Union Home Minister the same day, was supposed to visit the city that evening, but the visit was cancelled.

Source: zeenews.india.com

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August 4, 2012

Saina Nehwal loses in semis but still in hunt for bronze

LONDON: Outclassed by a clearly superior rival, Saina Nehwal on Friday tamely lost to the top-seeded Yihan Wang of China in the women’s singles semi-final of the Olympic Games, acknowledging later that the Chinese was “too fast” for her.ImageWorld No 5 Saina, the first Indian to reach the Olympic semi-final in the shuttle game, was beaten 13-21 13-21 by the world’s top women’s badminton player in a match that lasted 42 minutes before a packed Wembly Arena where Indian supporters outshouted the Chinese but that too did not help.

Saina can still hope to win an Olympic bronze in a play-off with yet another Chinese player Xin Wang, who was defeated by compatriot Li Xuerui in a closely fought second semi-final 22-20, 21-18, played immediately after Saina-Yihan clash. The Indian will meet the World No 2 Chinese in the play-off on Saturday.

Clearly off colour, the Hyderabadi girl was never in the match except for brief moments in the second set. She was unable to draw her rival into rallies and could not hold her service for long.

The taller Wang moved swiftly on the court, never allowing Saina to engage in rallies which is her strength. The longest rally of the match lasted 38 seconds and the average rally just 10 seconds.

Acknowledging the superiority of Wang, the disappointed Indian said later that she was too fast for her while she herself was not moving so well on the court.

“Wang was simply too fast for me. I was not moving well on the court and she exploited that. I made some errors in crucial stages which did not help me,” she said.

“I tried hard in some areas but she just did not allow me to settle down and engage in rallies. She was finishing off quickly and was coming upto the net to attack. I could not counter that kind of a game,” Saina expplained.

Asked if she had not had enough recovery time for the match after her yesterday’s quarterfinal win, Saina said that was not an issue at all and that she had had enough recovery time.

Up against the top seeded Chinese, Saina committed too many unforced errors to see her dream of winning an Olympic gold medal come crashing.

There was very little margin for error for Saina as Yihan was sharper, more accurate and also used her powerful smashes to outwit the Indian.

The 22-year-old committed too many unforced errors to lag 6-11 at the interval in the first game. Although Saina tried to come back with the help of some brilliant net play, the Chinese employed some immaculate placements and powerful smashes to lead 1-0.

In the second game, Saina tried to match her superior rival and did trouble her to enjoy a one-point lead at the break. But the tall Chinese used her height to advantage and was also very quick on the court.

She mixed her repertoire of strokes to incude the Indian to commit errors and moved ahead.

Yihan anticipated the shots and was better prepared and, with Saina hitting wide and long, the Chinese registered three straight points after moving into the match point to cement her place in the finals.

This was Yihan’s sixth victory over Saina in as many encounters.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

August 4, 2012

Team Anna’s decision to join politics irks backers

New Delhi: It seems that Team Anna’s decision to enter politics has not gone down well with some of the supporters.

Reports claim that some supporters of Anna Hazare at Navsari in Surat have burnt posters of the social activist and India Against Corruption.

In fact, former Karnataka Lokayukta and Team Anna member Santosh Hegde also said yesterday that he does not support Anna Hazare and his team floating a political party, but would campaign for candidates who identify themselves with his movement against corruption.

There was a section of the volunteers of India Against Corruption at Jantar Mantar, who were cheering Anna Hazare during his fast, protested the team’s decision to take a political route.

Around 50 volunteers reportedly submitted their identity cards with the management of India Against Corruption and refused to turn up at the event.

Reports also said some of the volunteers were also beaten up for displaying placards requesting Team Anna not to join the politics.

However, Team Anna has given assurance to dejected volunteers that Arvind Kejriwal would meet them soon.

Team Anna’s decision to join politics irks backers On Friday, Team Anna moved towards forming a party to fight the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but Anna Hazare made it clear that he will not launch a party or contest elections. Ending their ten-day fast at Jantar Mantar, the team declared that “people” will decide on their candidates and fund their elections.

“We will have to throw this government out. It is a long fight. This is not a party. It will be a movement from the streets to Parliament.”

“Parliament has to be purified. There will be no high command. People will decide the candidates and they will fund it,” Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal announced.

August 4, 2012

What did Anna Hazare’s Jantar Mantar fast achieve?

ImageTeam Anna’s latest fast at Jantar Mantar was initially greeted by a tepid response by the aam admi and the media. After the high-voltage show at Ramlila Maidan last year, the camera lights had dimmed. Adding to the concerns of the anti-corruption crusaders was the absolute thumbs down by the government; no one from Lutyen’s Delhi appeared to be interested in them anymore.

The same ruling establishment which had wooed and ‘saluted’ Anna for his indomitable spirit and called him too ‘valuable’ for the nation, completely ignored him, a year after Parliament adopting a ‘sense of House’ resolution on the Lokpal Bill.

Although, the movement did gain pace after Anna Hazare himself took to the stage and began fasting along with others, it is clear that the latest round of fast did not really have the kind of action that they had hoped for.

Fact is that Team Anna was on the backfoot and had no strategy to counter the Congress led UPA government’s wait and watch game. One could almost feel them rubbing their hands in glee. As they say – Time is a great leveller.

Given the above scenario, Anna called off his ten day fast on Friday along with his key aides Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai and made an announcement which has started off a national debate.

Just before breaking his fast, Arvind Kejriwal revealed what we all had anticipated. “We will form our own party, the name and the manisfesto of which will be decided by the people.” So finally Team Anna has taken the all important plunge.

The question is whether Anna and his men had any options left? With nothing much happening this time around, they could not have simply called off the fast without a face-saver. And this declaration of providing a political alternative was probably the best option left for them.

Critics of Anna and his team like senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh have maintained throughout that the movement had political aspirations. In fact it was also being said time and again that people like Kejriwal were using the diminutive man from Realegan Siddhi for their personal ambitions.

When Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said that they always knew that Team Anna were inspired by politics and that it was good that whatever the intention was it had come out clear, one could almost feel the sense of victory for the Congress party. Also it may have given them a sense of confidence. After all political arena is the grand old party’s area of strength but appears to be completely alien territory for Anna’s motley group.

It’s not just the Congress, to take Team Anna on in their own turf and in their own background will be something parties cutting across political lines will not mind.

But the moot question is whether this experiment of Anna’s men will succeed or is it embarking on a path of destruction? Politics is a different ballgame altogether. And that too in a country like India where caste and religion play an important role in electoral politics.

However, Team Anna can take solace from the fact that the last couple of state elections have shown, albeit slowly but surely, that the voting pattern of the country is changing. The last elections in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh did bring to light the fact that people are voting on the plank of good governance and development. And if Team Anna can convince the electorate that they can clean up the system, the people of this country who are fed up with deep rooted corruption may give them a chance.

Will Anna be able to provide a formidable front in 2014 is a matter for posterity? However the immediate challenge that will confront them will be how to embark on the road to electoral politics. It will be anything but a smooth ride. It will be bumpy and pull of potholes.

The transition from being a pressure group to a political front will not be easy. What will the organisational structure of the front be? Questions will arise on ways to fund the elections and the task of finding more than 500 ‘clean’ candidates who can win. Also the team has to be prepared to take in criticisms just as any political outfit is criticised if they are found wanting. Apart from their views on corruption and Lokpal, the team will have to make their stand clear on a host of issues confronting the country. For starters, they have to start talking in one language and their intentions have to be pure.

Post Script: But as Ghalib said – Ek aag ka darya hai aur doob ke jaana hai. Likewise the team has to prepare themselves on a war footing to jump into the political cauldron of India. However, let us not be cynics and let us give Anna Hazare and his band of soldiers a chance. In a democratic country like ours everyone has the right to form a political party and fight elections. After all there are more than 60 political parties and seven national parties in India. There is surely space for one more, especially one which promises to be different.

Whatever the outcome or fate of Team Anna may be, one thing is sure – we are in for interesting times ahead

Source: zeenews.india.com

March 6, 2012

UP Polls Results Live: Elephant gives way to Cycle

ImageLucknow: Bahujan Samaj Party’s elephant has given way to Samajwadi party’s cycle in Uttar Pradesh, emerging trends in Assembly elections 2012 counting indicate. The Samajwadi Party has emerged as the single largest party but appears set to fall short of majority in the politically-crucial state. The ruling Bahujan Samaj Party is a distant second while the Congress and the BJP are engaged in a neck-to-neck race for the third spot.

Riding on the Cycle, the Mulayam Singh-led party is leading in 192 out of the total 403 seats, as per the latest trends available at 11.45 am. However, the big question now is – will the Congress go back on its grand standing and extend support to the SP to form the government in UP.

Riding on the Cycle, the Mulayam Singh-led party is leading in 192 out of the total 403 seats, as per the latest trends available at 11.45 am. However, the big question now is – will the Congress go back on its grand standing and extend support to the SP to form the government in UP.

Mayawati, despite registering impressive performance in spearheading economic growth in UP, is on her way out. The BSP is ahead in 101 seats. As per reports, Mayawati will head towards the Raj Bhavan at 3.30 pm to tender her resignation.

The Congress, for which the elections have been a high-profile affair after Rahul Gandhi himself steered the poll campaign, is leading in 51 seats – a marked improvement from the 22 seats it has in the outgoing Assembly.

The BJP has also done well in the state with it being ahead in 48 seats. Others are ahead in only 11 seats.

Among the prominent SP candidates who are leading include Mulayam Singh Yadav’s brother Shivpal Singh Yadav, Brahmashankar Tripathi, Abhay Singh, Mata Prasad and Veer Singh.

From the BJP who are on course to victory include Kalraj Mishra, Avadhesh Kumar, Daddan Mishra, Devendra Singh, Mahesh Kumar Sharma, Nawab Singh Nagar and Ramapati Shastri.

However, UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi is trailing from Lucknow.

Besides UP counting of votes is underway in Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa.

The results will decide the fate of candidates in a total of 690 assembly seats — 403 in UP, 117 seats in Punjab, 70 in Uttarakhand, 60 in Manipur and 40 in Goa.

The elections, which have taken place in the middle of the last Lok Sabha election in 2009 and the next in 2014, are being considered some sort of “semi final” for the UPA and NDA.

Source: zeenews

December 11, 2011

Join my fight for Lokpal: Anna to political parties

New Delhi: Thanking the political leaders for coming and taking part in the debate on Lokpal at Jantar Mantar here, anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Sunday requested the political parties to join him on the streets in his campaign for a strong Lokpal Bill.

The Gandhian, who is on a day-long token fast, told the supporters that all politicians are not corrupt and there are good people in politics as well. However, he added that criminalisation of politics is a concern.

The noted social activist said that the entire nation is watching, adding he will again court arrest and appeal for ‘jail bharo aandolan’ if a strong Lokpal Bill is not passed in the Winter Session.

“Not a single jail should be left empty,” he said, to a thunderous applause from his supporters.

“The government should listen to the voice of the people. Agitation will continue for a strong Lokpal,” Hazare added.

He told the politicians – including Arun Jaitley of the BJP, Brinda Karat of the CPI(M) and AB Bardhan of the CPI — to fight for a strong Lokpal inside the Parliament and force the government to pass an effective law.

“You fight inside Parliament, we will fight outside. If the government disagrees you should join us in street protests,” he said.

The politicians earlier backed Hazare on having a strong ombudsman with the Prime Minister under its ambit but cautioned him not to be rigid on his version of the bill.

Source: Zeenews

August 23, 2011

I’d rather not be Anna

If what we’re watching on TV is indeed a revolution, then it has to be one of the more embarrassing and unintelligible ones of recent times. For now, whatever questions you may have about the Jan Lokpal Bill, here are the answers you’re likely to get: tick the box — (a) Vande Mataram (b) Bharat Mata ki Jai (c) India is Anna, Anna is India (d) Jai Hind.

For completely different reasons, and in completely different ways, you could say that the Maoists and the Jan Lokpal Bill have one thing in common — they both seek the overthrow of the Indian State. One working from the bottom up, by means of an armed struggle, waged by a largely adivasi army, made up of the poorest of the poor. The other, from the top down, by means of a bloodless Gandhian coup, led by a freshly minted saint, and an army of largely urban, and certainly better off people. (In this one, the Government collaborates by doing everything it possibly can to overthrow itself.)

In April 2011, a few days into Anna Hazare’s first “fast unto death,” searching for some way of distracting attention from the massive corruption scams which had battered its credibility, the Government invited Team Anna, the brand name chosen by this “civil society” group, to be part of a joint drafting committee for a new anti-corruption law. A few months down the line it abandoned that effort and tabled its own bill in Parliament, a bill so flawed that it was impossible to take seriously.

Then, on August 16th, the morning of his second “fast unto death,” before he had begun his fast or committed any legal offence, Anna Hazare was arrested and jailed. The struggle for the implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill now coalesced into a struggle for the right to protest, the struggle for democracy itself. Within hours of this ‘Second Freedom Struggle,’ Anna was released. Cannily, he refused to leave prison, but remained in Tihar jail as an honoured guest, where he began a fast, demanding the right to fast in a public place. For three days, while crowds and television vans gathered outside, members of Team Anna whizzed in and out of the high security prison, carrying out his video messages, to be broadcast on national TV on all channels. (Which other person would be granted this luxury?) Meanwhile 250 employees of the Municipal Commission of Delhi, 15 trucks, and six earth movers worked around the clock to ready the slushy Ramlila grounds for the grand weekend spectacle. Now, waited upon hand and foot, watched over by chanting crowds and crane-mounted cameras, attended to by India’s most expensive doctors, the third phase of Anna’s fast to the death has begun. “From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, India is One,” the TV anchors tell us.

While his means may be Gandhian, Anna Hazare’s demands are certainly not. Contrary to Gandhiji’s ideas about the decentralisation of power, the Jan Lokpal Bill is a draconian, anti-corruption law, in which a panel of carefully chosen people will administer a giant bureaucracy, with thousands of employees, with the power to police everybody from the Prime Minister, the judiciary, members of Parliament, and all of the bureaucracy, down to the lowest government official. The Lokpal will have the powers of investigation, surveillance, and prosecution. Except for the fact that it won’t have its own prisons, it will function as an independent administration, meant to counter the bloated, unaccountable, corrupt one that we already have. Two oligarchies, instead of just one.

Whether it works or not depends on how we view corruption. Is corruption just a matter of legality, of financial irregularity and bribery, or is it the currency of a social transaction in an egregiously unequal society, in which power continues to be concentrated in the hands of a smaller and smaller minority? Imagine, for example, a city of shopping malls, on whose streets hawking has been banned. A hawker pays the local beat cop and the man from the municipality a small bribe to break the law and sell her wares to those who cannot afford the prices in the malls. Is that such a terrible thing? In future will she have to pay the Lokpal representative too? Does the solution to the problems faced by ordinary people lie in addressing the structural inequality, or in creating yet another power structure that people will have to defer to?

Meanwhile the props and the choreography, the aggressive nationalism and flag waving of Anna’s Revolution are all borrowed, from the anti-reservation protests, the world-cup victory parade, and the celebration of the nuclear tests. They signal to us that if we do not support The Fast, we are not ‘true Indians.’ The 24-hour channels have decided that there is no other news in the country worth reporting.

‘The Fast’ of course doesn’t mean Irom Sharmila’s fast that has lasted for more than ten years (she’s being force fed now) against the AFSPA, which allows soldiers in Manipur to kill merely on suspicion. It does not mean the relay hunger fast that is going on right now by ten thousand villagers in Koodankulam protesting against the nuclear power plant. ‘The People’ does not mean the Manipuris who support Irom Sharmila’s fast. Nor does it mean the thousands who are facing down armed policemen and mining mafias in Jagatsinghpur, or Kalinganagar, or Niyamgiri, or Bastar, or Jaitapur. Nor do we mean the victims of the Bhopal gas leak, or the people displaced by dams in the Narmada Valley. Nor do we mean the farmers in NOIDA, or Pune or Haryana or elsewhere in the country, resisting the takeover of the land.

‘The People’ only means the audience that has gathered to watch the spectacle of a 74-year-old man threatening to starve himself to death if his Jan Lokpal Bill is not tabled and passed by Parliament. ‘The People’ are the tens of thousands who have been miraculously multiplied into millions by our TV channels, like Christ multiplied the fishes and loaves to feed the hungry. “A billion voices have spoken,” we’re told. “India is Anna.”

Who is he really, this new saint, this Voice of the People? Oddly enough we’ve heard him say nothing about things of urgent concern. Nothing about the farmer’s suicides in his neighbourhood, or about Operation Green Hunt further away. Nothing about Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh, nothing about Posco, about farmer’s agitations or the blight of SEZs. He doesn’t seem to have a view about the Government’s plans to deploy the Indian Army in the forests of Central India.

He does however support Raj Thackeray’s Marathi Manoos xenophobia and has praised the ‘development model’ of Gujarat’s Chief Minister who oversaw the 2002 pogrom against Muslims. (Anna withdrew that statement after a public outcry, but presumably not his admiration.)

Despite the din, sober journalists have gone about doing what journalists do. We now have the back-story about Anna’s old relationship with the RSS. We have heard from Mukul Sharma who has studied Anna’s village community in Ralegan Siddhi, where there have been no Gram Panchayat or Co-operative society elections in the last 25 years. We know about Anna’s attitude to ‘harijans’: “It was Mahatma Gandhi’s vision that every village should have one chamar, one sunar, one kumhar and so on. They should all do their work according to their role and occupation, and in this way, a village will be self-dependant. This is what we are practicing in Ralegan Siddhi.” Is it surprising that members of Team Anna have also been associated with Youth for Equality, the anti-reservation (pro-“merit”) movement? The campaign is being handled by people who run a clutch of generously funded NGOs whose donors include Coca-Cola and the Lehman Brothers. Kabir, run by Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, key figures in Team Anna, has received $400,000 from the Ford Foundation in the last three years. Among contributors to the India Against Corruption campaign there are Indian companies and foundations that own aluminum plants, build ports and SEZs, and run Real Estate businesses and are closely connected to politicians who run financial empires that run into thousands of crores of rupees. Some of them are currently being investigated for corruption and other crimes. Why are they all so enthusiastic?

Remember the campaign for the Jan Lokpal Bill gathered steam around the same time as embarrassing revelations by Wikileaks and a series of scams, including the 2G spectrum scam, broke, in which major corporations, senior journalists, and government ministers and politicians from the Congress as well as the BJP seem to have colluded in various ways as hundreds of thousands of crores of rupees were being siphoned off from the public exchequer. For the first time in years, journalist-lobbyists were disgraced and it seemed as if some major Captains of Corporate India could actually end up in prison. Perfect timing for a people’s anti-corruption agitation. Or was it?

At a time when the State is withdrawing from its traditional duties and Corporations and NGOs are taking over government functions (water supply, electricity, transport, telecommunication, mining, health, education); at a time when the terrifying power and reach of the corporate owned media is trying to control the public imagination, one would think that these institutions — the corporations, the media, and NGOs — would be included in the jurisdiction of a Lokpal bill. Instead, the proposed bill leaves them out completely.

Now, by shouting louder than everyone else, by pushing a campaign that is hammering away at the theme of evil politicians and government corruption, they have very cleverly let themselves off the hook. Worse, by demonising only the Government they have built themselves a pulpit from which to call for the further withdrawal of the State from the public sphere and for a second round of reforms — more privatisation, more access to public infrastructure and India’s natural resources. It may not be long before Corporate Corruption is made legal and renamed a Lobbying Fee.

Will the 830 million people living on Rs.20 a day really benefit from the strengthening of a set of policies that is impoverishing them and driving this country to civil war?

This awful crisis has been forged out of the utter failure of India’s representative democracy, in which the legislatures are made up of criminals and millionaire politicians who have ceased to represent its people. In which not a single democratic institution is accessible to ordinary people. Do not be fooled by the flag waving. We’re watching India being carved up in war for suzerainty that is as deadly as any battle being waged by the warlords of Afghanistan, only with much, much more at stake.

(source: thehindu.com)

August 20, 2011

Govt blinks, ready to talk to Anna

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New Delhi: At a time when the UPA is on backfoot over Gandhian Anna Hazare’s indefinite fast, pressing for a stronger Lokpal Bill, government has hinted that it was ready to talk to Team Anna to find a midway, if approached formally.

The indications came after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired an hour-long meeting of Congress core group late last night, to take stock of the situation arising out of Anna’s fast at Ramlila Ground.

The meeting was attended by senior Union Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram and AK Antony. Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel was also present in the meeting.

“The government has no problem in holding talks with the civil society group led by Hazare if they express readiness,” highly placed sources in the Congress party informed.

A number of Congress leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity said the government should re-engage Team Anna in talks.

Govt blinks, ready to talk to Anna The meeting came against the backdrop of Hazare setting a deadline of August 30 for the government to get the Janlokpal Bill passed in Parliament, failing which he decided to continue his fast “till his last breath”.

Meanwhile, Congress launched damage control exercise over handling of Anna issue with East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit stating that the Gandhian should not have been arrested and adverse comments made against him could have been avoided.

The civil society led by Anna Hazare have been demanding inclusion of Prime Minister, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament under the ambit of Lokpal.

The Hazare team is also demanding a strong public grievance redressal mechanism, lokayuktas at state-level and independent selection, funding and removal mechanism to ensure autonomy of function.

The Lokpal Bill cleared by the cabinet seeks to keep the office of the Prime Minister outside the purview of the ombudsman during his term in office and also exclude higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament.

The Lokpal, consisting of chairperson and eight members, half of them judicial, will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions.

(source: zeenews.india.com)

August 19, 2011

Anna to begin epic battle for Lokpal today

https://latestindiannews.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/5649723079948303290_org.jpg?w=224New Delhi: Country’s biggest anti-corruption icon Anna Hazare will on Friday proceed to Ramlila Maidan to launch a 15-day protest against to press for a stronger Lokpal Bill.

As per reports, Anna will leave Tihar Jail for Ramlila ground around 11 am where he will continue his fast for a stronger anti-corruption bill, his aide Arvind Kejriwal said.

Anna is also expected to visit Rajghat to pay his respect to the Father of the Nation Mahatama Gandhi before reaching his fast venue.

“He’ll (Hazare) address the gathering once he comes out of jail and leave for Ramlila ground. He should leave Tihar jail around 11 am,” Kejriwal told reporters.

“The crowds gathered to support Anna Hazare are spiritual, and there have been no incidents of violence so far in the country where political rallies turn violent easily,” Kejriwal said.

“We’ve asked all our supporters that if they see anyone indulging in unsocial behaviour, they should immediately report to police,” he added.

Meanwhile, elaborate security arrangements have been put in place by Delhi Police to avoid any untoward incidents and last minute preparations are still on at the Ramlila Ground under the supervision of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for Anna’s agitation.

A breakthrough in the deadlock over conditions imposed on Hazare’s protest fast was achieved yesterday after two days of intense bargaining. Anna finally got the spacious Ramlila Ground for his fast instead of the smaller JP Park, the venue initially given by Delhi Police with a restriction of 5,000 supporters.

Significantly, Team Hazare made it clear that his fast would not be a fast-unto-death and he will be on hunger strike only till his health permits.

Hazare’s close associate Kiran Bedi said the moment Dr Naresh Trehan’s team is of the view that he needs medical attention, he will get medical attention.

Close on the heels of the deal, Team Hazare also hinted that it may not insist on inclusion of higher judiciary in the Lokpal Bill if government brings a “good” Judicial Accountability Bill.

The activists also pleaded that the Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by them should at least be brought to Parliament for its consideration.

The deal was reached in discussions between his associates including Bedi and Prashant Bhushan and Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta.

In a sort of give-and-take, Team Hazare won a number of concessions but came down on the duration of the protest restricting it to 15 days. Yesterday, the activists were insisting on a longer period of at least a month for the protest.

Home Secretary RK Singh maintained that the permission given for the fast is conditional and is upto September 2.

“The Delhi Police discussed with Team Anna and, thereafter, they have come to a decision. What the Delhi Police conveyed to the Ministry of Home Affairs is that the permission was given till September two on the usual sort of conditions,” he told reporters.

Singh said it was not proper to say the agreement was a victory for one side and defeat for the other “but the basic issue was that permission for certain ground and certain period was given with some sort of conditions.”

Anna to begin epic battle for Lokpal today Apparently referring to the conditions put for fast earlier proposed in JP Park, the Home Secretary said conditions of a particular ground mandated a certain size of crowd as well as of available parking.

In return, Team Anna has given a two-page undertaking to Delhi Police in which it agreed to abide by existing rules and regulations and the crowd will not exceed the capacity of the ground, which is around 25,000 people.

In the undertaking signed by Anna Hazare himself and his associates — Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Kiran Bedi and Shanti Bhushan, they also said that if any clause of it was violated, they would be liable to be prosecuted under law.

The clauses of the undertaking include — no damage to public property; gathering will not exceed the limit of the ground; the crowd will not spill over to the nearby roads; the protesters will cooperate with traffic police; loud speaker use within the ambit of a Supreme Court order (10 PM limit).

Other clauses are: Arrangements of drinking water, medical aid, mobile toilets, proper lighting; no carrying of lathi or any weapon; no provocative slogans/ speeches; no inflammatory slogans within 200 meters of religious or worship places; public safety will be taken care of; no use of crackers.

Medical examination of Hazare and those who will keep fast along with him will be conducted by government doctors three times a day while Team Anna promised to abide by the April 16, 2009 order of the Supreme Court which stipulated rules and regulations for public protests.

(source: zeenews.india.com)

August 18, 2011

Lokpal Bill row: Anna Hazare relents; accepts police permission for 15-day fast

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New Delhi:  More than 36 hours after he was brought to the Tihar Jail, Anna Hazare relented and accepted a police offer of staging a 15-day protest hunger- strike at the Ramlila Grounds in Delhi. Mr Hazare is expected to be at the venue at 3 pm today, tweeted his close associate Kiran Bedi.

The breakthrough was reached  after Anna Hazare’s close associates Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan met Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta late on Wednesday night to iron out differences. The meeting took place at Commissioner Gupta’s residence in Chanakyapuri’s Satya Marg after midnight. Team Anna then went back to Tihar Jail to brief Mr Hazare about their talks.

Reports suggest there will be no limits on how many people can gather at this base camp in support of Anna, though the police will review security and safety conditions continuously to ensure that those at the protest site do not disrupt traffic or in other ways breach upon normal life for the rest of the capital.

Anna had vowed not to leave Tihar till he was guaranteed that the Government would not impose any conditions upon the mass-protest he wants to hold in Delhi. The police first said the protest would be illegal if it drew more than 5000 people or if the 74-year-old Anna’s hunger strike extended beyond three days. Anna and his supporters said they’d defy police instructions and were on their way to launch their demonstration on Tuesday when they were arrested.

The Government has learnt to regret that decision. In Parliament and outside, the consensus has been that the arrests violated the fundamental right to peaceful protest.  And India reacted with massive shows of support for Anna.

As evening fell upon Delhi on Wednesday, rush hour saw thousands of people gathering in different parts of the capital. A total of 10,000 people marched in groups between 4 and 6 pm from India Gate to Jantar Mantar, stating simply “Anna, hum tumhaare saath hain (we are with you, Anna).”

The crowd of nearly 2000 people outside Tihar Jail at 6 pm was more boisterous, roaring each time word spread that Anna and his aides had moved onto the next point in their lengthy negotiations with the Delhi Police. (Top surfer comments on Anna Hazare)

Mr Hazare knows his arrest and the overwhelming public support for him has given him considerable leverage. So when the police offered him Ramlila Maidan as a new venue Wednesday, he accepted; when he was asked to limit his protest’s duration to 15 days, he did not.

Through the early evening, there were reports that Anna would wrap up his talks with the police and emerge from jail. But shortly after 6 pm, Ms Bedi told the crowd outside Tihar, “The talks with the Delhi Police are continuing…we’ve agreed on the venue but not the duration (of the protest).”

“We are not worried, we will find a way out of this”, said the Prime Minister outside his home on Wednesday afternoon. However, the decision to have Mr Hazare arrested has proved to be near-catastrophic for the Government. Dr Manmohan Singh’s statement in Parliament on Wednesday morning explaining the background to the arrest was described as disappointing by the Opposition.

In a powerful attack, the BJP’s Arun Jaitley charged the government of arrogance and of being advised by “too many lawyers” (a quick swipe at those like senior minister Kapil Sibal who have been countering Mr Hazare), Mr Jaitley said, “You have a serious political issue which is being debated for the last few months and climaxes in last few days…and we find that the political leadership of this country is hiding behind men in uniform…and telling us that the entire crisis was being handled by policemen.”

Mr Hazare was actually allowed by the Delhi Police to leave jail on Tuesday night, about 12 hours after he was arrested. But he turned down the offer to head out of Tihar, insisting that he wants the government to first agree that his hunger strike will not be interrupted or his protest checked as long as it remains peaceful.

Among his visitors were spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and civil rights activist Swami Agnivesh. Outside, among the crowd, popular yoga guru Baba Ramdev, was seen standing atop a car.

Mr Hazare’s hunger strike began on Tuesday morning. Since then, he has had only water. Doctors have been examining him in prison.

The war between the government and Mr Hazare centres on the Lokpal Bill introduced in Parliament last week. The Bill is meant to provide an antidote to the seemingly limitless corruption among politicians, bureaucrats and judges. Mr Hazare says the government has betrayed India by drafting a Bill that has no intention of seriously and objectively investigating charges of venality. The BJP’s Arun Jaitley stressed in Parliament that while his party has vast differences with Mr Hazare’s suggestions for the Bill, it does not agree with the “government-appointed Lokpal” that the current bill provides for.

Like Tuesday, the public support for Mr Hazare played out in different cities on Wednesday too. In Bangalore, Freedom Park saw thousands of protestors. Mumbai’s Azad Maidan was also filled during the day with supporters of Anna.

(source: ndtv.com)