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Hazare effect: Non-UPA parties join ranks

New Delhi: Slamming the government over the arrest of Anna Hazare and his team, BJP-led NDA, Left and several other Opposition parties on Tuesday closed ranks and demanded a statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on ”violation of democratic rights”.

As Hazare was arrested and sent to Tihar Jail, leaders of BJP, JD(U), Shiv Sena, CPI(M), CPI, Samajwadi Party, RJD and some other non-UPA parties held a meeting to discuss common strategy over the issue and came up with a vow to continue their agitation in Parliament against corruption.

“It has been decided that the Prime Minister should make a statement in both Houses of Parliament on whatever is happening in the country. Nobody else,” Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said.

She said the demand for the Prime Minister’s statement will be made tomorrow and it will determine Parliament’s functioning. Contending that action against Hazare reflected the government’s “nervousness”, she said the Opposition unity was not on Jan Lokpal Bill but “violation of democratic rights”.

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley alleged the government was “trying to snatch people’s right to protest” and said “the political leadership is trying to hide behind uniform (police)”.

Amid indications that Parliament would not be allowed to function, Jaitley said the impeachment proceedings against Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen tomorrow will take place as per schedule at 3 PM.

Slamming the government, CPI(M) said it has “attacked the democratic right to conduct peaceful protest” and asked its party units to conduct peaceful agitation against it tomorrow.

Emerging from the meeting, senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said the arrest of Anna Hazare was “unjustified” and “we will continue to demand for Prime Minister’s statement on this issue. Our fight will continue.”

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta CPI echoed Raghuvansh Singh. Dasgupta had earlier suggested that all Opposition parties should boycott Parliament for three days but it apparently did not find favour.

Condemning Hazare’s arrest, JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav said, “We will not concede our ground. The Prime Minister should make a statement in Parliament. Anna Hazare should be released and then talks should be held to find a way out.”

Yadav said the government has needlessly made a big issue out of a demand for giving Hazare a place to hold his indefinite fast. “What is the big issue in giving Hazare Jantar Mantar or Jai Prakash Narayan Park to Hazare to hold his fast. Government is responsible for creating this atmosphere” Yadav said.

CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat also came down heavily on the Congress, saying Hazare’s arrest was “a strong attack on democratic rights. … I believe it also reflects the Congress party’s refusal to tolerate any movement against corruption.

“One can ask why is the Congress leadership taking this decision. Clearly because their own government is steeped in corruption”, she said. Asked whether Hazare’s arrest reflected an “Emergency- like situation”, she said it was a “strong attack on democratic rights. … We don’t agree on several counts with Anna Hazare but we cannot tolerate such a move.

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