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Team Anna begins indefinite fast for a stringent Lokpal

New Delhi(IANS): Team Anna members Wednesday began their indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar in the capital in support of a stringent Jan Lokpal bill and demanding an inquiry into allegations of corruption against two-dozen ministers, including President Pranab Mukherjee when he was the finance minister.

As Mukherjee was sworn-in as the country’s 13th president, hundreds of people, including schoolchildren and retired government officials, assembled at Jantar Mantar to pledge their support for Anna Hazare and his cause.

Mukherjee was one of the 15 cabinet ministers named by the Team Anna for being involved in corruption.

The fast is led by Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal while social activist Anna Hazare said he would join the fast from July 29 if the government failed to take immediate steps to check corruption in high places. Hazare is sitting on dharna as of now.

Hazare, along with Kejriwal and two other members – Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai – paid tribute at Rajghat before beginning the protest.

Team Anna has got permission to fast at Jantar Mantar till Aug 8, the day parliament’s monsoon session is expected to begin.

“We are demanding a strict Lokpal bill but this government has betrayed us several times,” Hazare told reporters before starting the protest.

The podium has pictures of all the tainted cabinet ministers while a cloth covered Mukherjee’s image.

“We have given evidence against Mukherjee to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but no action was taken. Being the president, he now has immunity against any investigation … so we have covered his face,” said Kejriwal.

A ruckus was created at Jantar Mantar when some youths, claiming to be from Congress’ students wing, tried to take the podium shouting slogans against the activists.

The youths claimed to belong to National Student’s Union of India (NSUI), but the NSUI has denied any link with the incident.

“Some members of NSUI tried to enter the stage where Anna Hazare was sitting, but were stopped by volunteers. They were raising anti-Anna slogans,” a member of Team Anna told IANS.

The NSUI, which is the students’ wing of the Congress, however, denied its members were in any way involved in any such activity.

The Congress hit back saying Team Anna is trying to create a controversy by naming NSUI.

“It is unfounded allegations not based on any facts. They are trying to create a controversy by naming NSUI,” said Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy.

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