New Delhi: A fresh standoff on Saturday appeared to be brewing between Anna Hazare and government with the Gandhian seeking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention over the strict conditions imposed for his indefinite fast from August 16 but was sternly told by him to approach the Delhi police.
In a late night response to Hazare who rejected Delhi police conditions to limit his protest to three days and 5,000 people, Singh told the social activist that his grievances needed to be “addressed by the statutory authorities who have taken the decision”.
“My office does not in any way get involved in the decision-making process”, the Prime Minister said.
Hazare accused the government of “deceit” by putting conditions on his agitation and sought the intervention of the Prime Minister asking him to “show courage” and protect his fundamental rights.
Singh said “the terms and conditions on which you are entitled to carry on with your protest are decided by the statutory authorities concerned taking into account the prevailing circumstances and other relevant factors”.
The Prime Minister went on to add “we are all committed to the Constitution of India and to uphold it in both letter and spirit”.
Addressing a press conference after Delhi Police sent a letter carrying 22 conditions, Hazare made it clear that he was ready for any eventuality in case government decides to crackdown on his protest, saying he would not mind going jail or beaten up by police.
“Fast will take place in Jai Prakash Narain Park. We will continue with the protest beyond three days…the government is scared that its corruption will be exposed,” said a defiant Hazare whose fast in April had forced the government to come out with a Lokpal Bill with which he is not satisfied.
The government introduced Lokpal Bill in Lok Sabha which has been referred to Standing Committee of Parliament and is expected to be taken up in the winter session.
The ambit of the proposed legislation excludes the Prime Minister, the higher judiciary and the conduct of MPs inside Parliament but Hazare wants the Bill to cover them besides the entire bureaucracy.
Lawyer Shanti Bhushan said they agree with almost all the conditions laid by Delhi Police for the protest but would not give an undertaking that the protest will end by the third day and the number of protesters will not go beyond 5,000. termning it “unconstitutional”.