Lao Ya Jao : Anna Hazare's New Slogan

Lao Ya Jao : Anna Hazare's New Slogan

Anna warns Govt: Introduce our Lokpal Bill or quit [Lao Ya Jao]
New Delhi: 50,000 people came together on Sunday evening to let Anna Hazare know they support his fight against corruption. They gathered at his base camp in Delhi and listened spellbound to his evening address at 8 pm. "Let it be clear to the government," Anna said, on the sixth day of his fast. "Introduce our Lokpal Bill or quit." (Read: Who is Anna Hazare?) | (Read: What is Jan Lokpal Bill?)

Through the day, as the crowds grew in strength, the government sent a couple of emissaries to negotiate with Anna's associates for a possible breakthrough.

The Gandhian's speech suggested a compromise is not imminent. He repeated that his deadline stands - unless the Jan lokpal Bill is passed by August 30, he said, there will be a bigger revolution.

At India Gate, a sea of candles held their own against the night sky. "I have sacrificed much for this country," Anna said, "but look at what you have given me. I did not marry so I could serve India, but you are my family." And in a clear reprimand to recent allegations of corruption made against him by Congress party spokespersons, he stressed, "In 74 years, my record remains unblemished. That reputation is my weapon in this war against corruption."

Anna and his aides have warned since Friday evening that the government must not just consider their Lokpal Bill, but pass it by the end of the month. As India took to the streets in different cities, many pointed out that Team Anna is undermining Parliamentary processes, that the deadline imposed is unrealistic, and that a group of non-elected representatives of civil society cannot have their Bill considered in Parliament when the Government's version of the same Bill has been introduced and is being studied by a committee that includes representatives of different parties.

Anna's response has been that the Government's Bill to tackle corruption is so flimsy that it must be accepted as "a betrayal of the nation."

In some sort of deference to the massive public support for Anna, the Prime Minister said yesterday that there is room for "lot of scope for give and take." Other representatives of the Government also suggested that Team Anna will be asked to offer their suggestions to the Standing Committee that's scrutinising the Lokpal Bill. Attempts at behind-the-scenes bargaining seem fruitless so far. Anna's associate, Arvind Kejriwal said, "For six days, Anna has been fasting but no proposal has come from the government (for talks). From tomorrow, we will sit outside the homes of MPs and ministers and tell them "if you don't pass the Bill then don't come to ask for votes."

Meant to tackle venality in public office, the Bill provides for an ombudsman committee that will have nine members and will investigate charges of corruption. The dispute between Team Anna and the Government is over how this panel would be selected, the range of its powers, and whether the PM's office and senior judges can be held accountable to it.

The government's Bill excludes the PM while in office from the purview of the Lokpal; activists and the BJP say that's unacceptable.

Looking for an early resolution, sources say, the government is making efforts to hold back-channel talks with the Gandhian. Sources have also told NDTV that the spiritual guru to Maharashtra leaders, Bhayyu Maharaj, has been selected as the main negotiator between the Government and Anna Hazare. They also say that Bhayyu Maharaj met Mr Hazare, alone, for an hour today. (Read: Government begins back-channel talks with Anna)

Sources say the Government offered Team Anna four months time for the Lokpal Bill to be passed and also said it will put the Jan Lokpal Bill in front of the Standing Committee. Team Anna has, however, turned these offers down.

As part of the government strategy to engage with people who are associated with Mr Hazare in Maharashtra, Umesh Chandra Sarangi, Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra, is also in Delhi where he met Mr Hazare and his team.

Mr Sarangi had two rounds of meetings with Mr Hazare. Team Anna, however, ruled out any compromise on its demand for bringing Prime Minister and higher judiciary within Lokpal's ambit

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