Hazare to fast in jail if no venue given in Mumbai

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Anna Hazare
Ralegan Siddhi, Dec 23: Anna Hazare today said he will fast in jail if authorities fail to give him a venue in Mumbai to protest against a weak Lokpal Bill.

"They will keep creating hurdles. In August, they did not give me a venue till last minute. I had to fast in jail...this time also, if they don't give me venue, I will go to jail," he told reporters.

He was responding to questions on his proposed fast from December 27.

His supporters have approached Bombay High Court seeking direction to the state government to allot a place for the protest.

Slamming the new Lokpal Bill, he said the government should involve people in lawmaking and invoked Rajiv Gandhi's name to tell the Congress-led dispensation that he had written to all village heads before coming out with the Panchayati Raj Bill.

Hazare questioned as to why the government was drafting the bill alone.

"Why is it so? Why does it not take the advise of the people? People are the masters and they have sent MPs to serve them. So they have to listen to people. Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi understood this.

"He wrote to sarpanches in all the 5.5 lakh villages in the country on the 73rd and 74th amendment. You cannot do it on your whims and fancies. Then what is the difference between autocracy and democracy?" he told reporters here.

Hazare said the new Lokpal Bill was very weak and a "wrong one" which will not help in eradicating corruption.

Asked whether he read the bill last night, Hazare said, "leave it" and went to say that the government should involve people in the process of drafting law.

In New Delhi, Team Anna member Kiran Bedi said the capital was not an option for Hazare's fast as one has to consider the age of the activist.

"Delhi option won't be open because it is cold for Anna. It cannot be. You got to respect his age and then sitting through the night...but not only Anna's age and cold but then there will be many other people who will fast with him," she told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

"So we have to be in Mumbai. If the government does not give us public land then Anna has said that all of us will go to jail," she said.

Asked about proposal to provide quota for minorities in Lokpal Bench and Search Committee, she said, "We have to go by two things..one is govt policy and the other is judgements by the courts. There is a laid down policy on this issue by the government and the courts."

PTI

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