Veteran activist Anna Hazare’s fast-unto-death here gathered steam on its second day Wednesday as he pressed for a stronger anti-graft Lok Pal Bill through greater involvement of civil society – a protest he has dubbed as the second Satyagraha.
“This is democracy and we want people’s participation in drafting the Lok Pal bill,” Hazare told reporters at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi where he has parked himself along with around 5,000 supporters.
“We want representation from civil society in drafting the Lok Pal Bill, 50 percent from civil society and 50 percent from the government,” he said. The bill aims to fight corruption in public life.
According to India Against Corruption, the banner under which the activists have united to fight corruption, the government has not approached the fasting activist so far. Hazare, who has sat on the fast Tuesday, however said that government will have to bow to the wish of the people.
“I am not waiting for government, the government will have to bow to the wish of the people,” the 72-year-old crusader said.
Hazare, who has named his fast the second Satyagraha on the lines of the movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi against the British rulers, has been joined by thousands of supporters all across the country and also abroad.
Fasts are being observed and rallies and demonstrations are being taken out in over 400 cities across the nation.
Hazare, meanwhile, told reporters here that he is doing well and except for a little weakness, his health is fine.
“The doctor came, he said BP (blood pressure) is fine, I only have a little weakness,” he said, adding in jest: “I will only lose some weight, can carry it forward for 10 or 12 more days.”
The activists are demanding the government adopt the alternative Jan Lok Pal Bill drafted by leading legal experts and personalities, including Arvind Kejriwal, former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
The calls for setting up of ombudsmen – a Lok Pal and Lokayuktas (in states) – independent of government control. In the activists’ version, investigation in any case will have to be completed in one year and punishment would be a jail term of minimum five years and maximum of life imprisonment.
The government’s version recommends a prison term of minimum six months and maximum seven years as punishment for corruption.