Posts tagged ‘Anna Hazare’

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


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 20, 2011

Govt blinks, ready to talk to Anna

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.


August 19, 2011

Anna Hazare leaves Tihar, heads to Ramlila Maidan

New Delhi:  A spontaneous roar of welcome from the huge crowd that has waited long hours for the leader to walk out of that gate. After almost four days in prison, Anna Hazare emerged out of Tihar Jail on Friday morning and is headed to Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan to continue his fast.

Mr Hazare has been fasting in Tihar since Tuesday.

The anti-corruption crusader is addressing the large number of supporters gathered outside Tihar Jail before he moves in a procession till Mayapuri. Thereafter, Mr Hazare will go to Amar Jyoti at India Gate, visit Rajghat and finally reach Ramlila Maidan in a small convoy of two or three cars. Supporters have been requested to go to the venue directly from Mayapuri.

Though an agreement was reached on Wednesday evening between Team Anna and the Delhi Police over the contours of his indefinite fast – with both sides climbing down from their rigid positions, the government a little more than Anna Hazare – the activist leader crusader chose to extend his stay in prison while the massive Ramlila Maidan was cleaned and prepared for his mass protest.

On Friday morning, his close associate Kiran Bedi, who inspected the grounds, announced the preparations there satisfactory for the Gandhian to take his fast there. She said Anna Hazare would leave the jail at 11 am and go to the Ramlila Maidan through Mayapuri, India Gate and Rajghat.

A former cop, Ms Bedi appealed to Mr Hazare’s supporters not to disrupt traffic and to reach the venue straight and in an orderly manner.

Another key advisor Arvind Kejriwal told NDTV that the movement would be “non-violent because of the leader’s message”, but that “no undertaking has been signed on allowing prosecution if rules are broken”.

Mr Kejriwal made clear that it was the responsibility of the administration to prevent anti-social elements from creating trouble.   Team Anna has also made clear that his is an “indefinite fast and dharna” and not “a fast unto death.” He will receive round-the-clock medical attention at the venue of his fast.

On Wednesday, Anna was with his aides in a conference room at Tihar while they negotiated with the Delhi Police the terms of the mass protest they had planned.  Anna, powered by public support, won hands down. An agreement was reached, after a 36-hour standoff, on using Ramlila Maidan and not Jaiprakash Narain Park as planned earlier. Anna Hazare agreed to limit his fast to a 15-day period, with the police reviewing the situation. The police agreed to let more people gather at the venue of the fast – it had initially sought to limit the gathering to less than 5000. Team Anna has signed off on a list of prerequisites from the Delhi Police. Among them, that the crowd will not exceed the official capacity of the ground, which is around 25,000 people. The permission for the fast has been given till September 2, 2011.

The government, realising that it cannot fight the overwhelmingly popular perception that Anna Hazare is the symbol of the fight against corruption, is expected not to interfere with his mass protest at the Ramlila Maidan, though the authorities will keep a watchful eye.

The government approach, sources say, will now be to engage with people who are associated with Mr Hazare in Maharashtra, to keep a channel of communication open. There have also been suggestions that the government send the Janlokpal Bill drafted by Team Anna to the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PAC).  As of now, sources say, the government is not open to this, but the the PAC might invite Anna Hazare to place the draft Bill before it.

In a video message from inside Tihar, Anna Hazare said on Thursday, “I won’t stop until we get Lokpal Bill passed. I am not tired after three days of fast.” Mr Hazare added that he will speak to his supporters on Friday.

During the Gandhian’s almost four days in jail, there have been huge protests across India. “I am Anna”, is the popular war-cry as people take to the streets. There have been overnight vigils at Tihar Jail as people wait for Anna to emerge from prison.

Upto 20,000 people marched in groups from India Gate to Jantar Mantar in the capital on Wednesday evening. Candlelight vigils were held in Mumbai, Guwahati, Chennai. And Bangalore continues to be one of Anna’s staunchest supporters – for three days in a row, Freedom Park was packed with students and techies, wearing “I am Anna” t-shirts and caps.
“I have skipped classes,” said a young college student.  “I will not get this opportunity again.”
It is Anna’s focus on fighting corruption that has served as a lightning rod for a country exposed to unprecedented corruption since September. Many of those who are participating in his movement admit they don’t know the details of his agenda.

What Anna has been pushing is his team’s version of a new anti-corruption law that Parliament plans to debate during its current session. The Lokpal Bill which provides for an ombudsman committee is weak, says Anna, and provides too many loopholes for politicians and bureaucrats who may need cover when accused of corruption.  The government, Anna’s critics, and other activists say that Anna’s own version would create an authoritarian panel with few checks and balances.

For middle class India, though, the India Against Corruption campaign fronted by Anna is both an outlet to vent its frustration, and a channel to demand change.  So far, the government has proven itself hopelessly out of sync with the public.

Anna’s arrest, his move to Tihar Jail (associated with hard-core criminals and home recently to politicians charged with corruption), and the Prime Minister’s statement on Wednesday in Parliament on these developments exposed that the UPA government’s political instincts are failing it when they are most needed.  The Opposition has found in Anna a uniting force, and it has launched a strong and effective attack on the government for violating Anna’s right to peaceful protest, as well as the alleged “lack of political will” in combating corruption.


August 18, 2011

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

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.


August 16, 2011

After Hazare’s detention, Manmohan Singh calls cabinet meet

New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has scheduled an emergency meeting of the cabinet Committee on Political Affairs in Parliament House at 10.15 a.m. Tuesday following the detention of Gandhian activist Anna Hazare in the morning.

The meeting will take stock of the situation arising out of Hazare’s detention by the Delhi Police early morning, hours before he was set to proceed on an indefinite fast demanding a stronger Lokpal Bill to deal with the corrupt.

Others scheduled to attend the meeting include Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, officials in Prime Minister’s Office said.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal and Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi are also scheduled to attend the meeting, they added.

Hazare, 74, had announced Sunday he would proceed with his indefinite fast at the Jai Prakash Narain Park near Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium close to the old quarters of the city. The Delhi Police had imposed prohibitory orders there.

He was detained along with some 250 of his supporters including activist Arvind Kejriwal and former top cop Kiran Bedi. Some of them were taken into custody from other places in the city.

‘Don’t let my arrest stop this movement. This is the nation’s second struggle for freedom. The entire world has come to know how deep rooted corruption is,’ Hazare had said in a statement, minutes before his detention.

‘I appeal to you that let there be no violence in this movement. I also appeal to you, young and old alike, to give eight days of your life to the nation – if necessary for a jail bharo andolan (fill the jails campaign).’

His supporters, who were detailed from various places, described the police action as unconstitutional.


August 16, 2011

Lokpal Bill: Delhi Police arrest Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, Kejriwal

New Delhi, August 16(ANI): The Delhi Police have detained veteran social activist Anna Hazare ahead of his indefinite fast over the proposed Lokpal Bill.

On Tuesday morning, over a dozen plain-clothed policemen landed at lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s house in Mayur Vihar, where Hazare was staying, and detained the Gandhian activist minutes before he was to set out for Rajghat, from where he had planned to head to the Jai Prakash Narain (JP) Park to begin his fast.

According to sources, Hazare has been taken away to the Police mess in north Delhi.

RTI crusader Arvind Kejriwal as well as former IPS officer Kiran Bedi-both of whom are Hazare supporters- have also been taken into preventive custody.

The Delhi Police has imposed Section 144 at several places in the capital, including central Delhi, JP Park, Rajghat and Dilli Gate.

On Monday evening, Hazare had announced at a packed press conference at Delhi’s Constitution Club: “I am starting my fast tomorrow. It is just the start of a struggle for change. We have to fight a long battle. It’s going to be a fight to bring about change in India.” (ANI)


August 13, 2011

Anna seeks PM’s intervention on police curbs

Anna writes to PM complaining of Delhi Police restrictions

Hazare, in a two-page letter, said that despite the restriction, he will go
ahead with the fast, and if arrested he will continue it in jail.

Delhi Police in their order Friday asked Team Anna to give an undertaking
that it will end its protest fast at a park in central Delhi in three days.

According to Hazare, the Indian constitution allows every citizen to hold
peaceful protest and stopping them is violation of their fundamental rights.

“I am writing to you with a hope that you will protect our fundamental right.
It is your duty to protect the democracy and constitution and I am hopeful that
you will take some action regarding this,” he said.

Hazare’s letter said that freedom fighters fought for these very rights and
it was ironical that ahead of the Independence Day, these rights were being

Besides, Delhi Police have put 22 restrictions — limiting the gathering to
4,000-5,000 people, not making proactive speeches and limited use of
loudspeakers, among others.

(source: msn)

August 10, 2011

Lokpal Bill: Team Anna to meet Par panel today Delhi: Anna Hazare and his associates will meet a Parliamentary panel Wednesday to put forth their views on the Lokpal Bill.

Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan will meet the members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice today evening to express their viewpoint on the issue.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari had referred the Bill to the Standing Committee headed by Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi and gave it three months time to give its report.

The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 4 amid BJP’s objection over non-inclusion of the office of the Prime Minister under the purview of the anti-corruption watchdog.

A section in the government had earlier hoped that the Standing Committee examines the bill this month so that it could be taken up in the current session itself. No other bill in the recent past has evoked so much controversy as the Lokpal Bill.

Lokpal Bill: Team Anna to meet Par panel today The government for the first time constituted a Joint Drafting Committee consisting of five representatives each from the government’s side and the civil society represented by Hazare.