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Lokpal Bill: Anna continues fast at Ramlila, awaits government call


August 20, 2011 - New Delhi

Anna Hazare's fast over a demand for a strong Lokpal Bill continued at the Ramlila Maidan on Saturday with his Team saying they were ready to talk to the government, but adding that no such channel of communication has been opened as yet.

Hazare came to the podium at around 10 a.m. this morning, as supporters started pouring into Ramlila Maidan where he launched his protest yesterday after coming out of Tihar Jail.

The 74-year-old anti-corruption crusader alleged the funds in government treasuries were being threatened not by thieves, but from those guarding it and the country is being threatened by these traitors.

"Why should we fight? The funds in government treasuries are ours. The treasuries are not threatened by thieves, but by those who guard it. The country is not betrayed by enemies, but by these traitors," Hazare said. e revealed that he had lost three-and-half kilograms in weight in the last four days.

"I feel a little weak. But there is nothing to worry about it. The fight will go on till we get a strong Lokpal," television channels quoted Hazare, as saying.

Hazare's close associates Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia said Team Hazare is ready to talk to the government on the issue of Lokpal Bill, but added that no one has approached them so far.

"We are ready to talk to the government but there is no communication from their side. Where should we go to talk and whom should we talk to?" Kejriwal and Sisodia said.

Hazare had yesterday raised the political stakes by giving a deadline to the government to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill by August 30 failing which he would continue his fast "till my last breath".

On the deadline, former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan said the government can pass it within days if it has a "strong will" to do it. "It can happen. I have been a Union Law Minister and I know how things happen in government," he told the gathering.

Asked whether the deadline was a little impractical, Kejriwal told reporters, "If the government desires, it can pass 15 bills in five minutes. But for the anti-corruption bill, they are taking more than 42 years. So, we want to know how many more years will they take?"

The government version encourages corruption and saves the corrupt, Kejriwal alleged and demanded that the Lokpal Bill introduced in Parliament be "rejected completely" and the Jan Lokpal Bill be replaced by it.

Reacting to the newspaper advertisements seeking suggestions from public on Lokpal Bill, Kejriwal said it appeared to be an exercise which will waste the time of people and Parliamentarians.

"We appeared before the Standing Committee earlier and told them that the present bill is actually for promotion of corruption and save the corrupt people. It ends up in targeting those who complain against corruption," he said.

Kejriwal said they had urged the Standing Committee to reject the bill and send it back to Parliament. "It is wasting precious time on a wrong and faulty bill," he said. "This seeking of feedback is basically to divert attention," he said.

Asked about some MPs, including BJP's Varun Gandhi, planning to introducing Jan Lokpal Bill as private bills, he said private bills do not achieve much. Earlier in the morning, police conducted extensive searches in the Maidan to ensure that no suspicious objects were planted there.

ANI

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