New Delhi/NOIDA (Uttar Pradesh)/Gurgaon, Aug.11 (ANI): As the date for veteran social activist Anna Hazare's proposed indefinite fast beginning August 16 draws closer, supporters of the Jan Lokpal Bill have raised the momentum for anti-graft crusade.
In New Delhi, on Thursday, well known Right to Information Act (RTI) activist Arvind Kejriwal warned the government not to take or contemplate aggressive action against Hazare and his supporters, saying that if any such action is undertaken, Hazare was ready to forego liquids, including water, in pursuit of his goal for a corrupt-free India.
Kejriwal further said that Hazare would be joined by hundreds of thousands of people from across the country during his indefinite fast.
Speaking after a core group meeting of Jan Lokpal activists here, Kejriwal said it was clear so far that the government has stalled and resisted any attempt at changing the Lokpal Bill as it exists today and as has been presented for approval in Parliament.
He said that the campaign to get an appropriate Jan Lokpal Bill that was in favour of the people of India, that was in favour of a corruption-free Indian society, that was in favour of bringing all corrupt elements to book and punish them without fear or favour, would not lose steam.
He also warned participants that anti-social elements could make their way into places where the fasts were taking place to spread misinformation about Anna and his campaign for social justice. They could also disrupt proceedings, he added.
"We are spreading awareness among the people of Noida about Anna Hazare's fast beginning August 16, so that people become more informed about their rights to fight corruption," informed Raghunath Tripathi, a Jan Lokpal bill supporter.
He emphasised on the involvement of the youth in this crusade against corruption.
A torch rally and street plays were also organised at key market places of Sector 18 in Noida near the metro station to spread the message of supporting Hazare's crusade.
The street play that dealt with enumerating difference between the government's and civil society versions of the Bill drew a huge crowd of onlookers.
Meanwhile, in Gurgaon, Haryana, residents took part in a candle light march to express their solidarity with Hazare's fight against corruption.
The protestors shouted slogans in support of Hazare.
Rajnikanth, a social activist, said that the government is misleading the people and that more people should come out and support Hazare's crusade.
He further urged people to take leave from their offices on August 16.
"Whatever the government is saying about bringing the Ombudsman Bill to fight corruption, it is misleading people. We support Anna (Hazare) and we will sit with him on his fast on August 16. All the people will take leave from their offices and get out in the streets to support the Jan Lokpal Bill," said Rajnikanth.
The much-debated Ombudsman Bill, which aims to set up an anti-corruption watchdog in the country, was tabled in the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian parliament) on August 4.
Hazare and his supporters, however, burnt copies of the bill in various cities, claiming that the Bill tabled in its present form in the parliament lacked teeth to counter corruption.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties termed the government's draft bill introduced in the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian parliament) as toothless.
While the civil society activists including Anna Hazare and his team are garnering public support against the government's draft bill, the government is in a rush to get the bill passed in the Parliament.
Corruption and a series of graft cases have proven to be the key issue plaguing the ruling government.
The final meeting between the government and the civil society representatives on the drafting of the bill had ended on June 22, with differences on six key issues which included the Prime Minister, the higher judiciary and lawmakers, being brought under the purview of the Lokpal.
The civil society members also differed with the government over the mode of selection of the Lokpal panel and removal of its members.
Graft has long been a part of daily life in India, but a series of recent scandals - which include violations in granting telecom licences that cost the country 39 billion dollars in lost revenue - are unprecedented. (ANI)