Anna Hazare says will die, but won’t take assurances

Anna Hazare has made it clear that he will not break his next fast on the basis of assurances, written or otherwise, from the Prime Minister or anyone else.

His fast starting next month will end only with the passing of a strong Lokpal bill, or his death, he said.

“So many people are dying every day. I am ready to die for the sake of the country. It am not afraid,” Anna Hazare, who last year brought the government and the Parliament to their knees with a massive country-wide agitation, said.

Hazare’s statement comes days ahead of the planned second round of agitation for bringing about a strong anti-corruption ombudsman.

A year ago, in August 2010, Hazare and his supporters from the social sector, launched India’s biggest mass movement in nearly four decades, bringing millions of people on to the streets in thousands of towns and villages across the country.

After a marathon fast lasting almost two weeks, Hazare had accepted a written assurance from the Prime Minister of India that a Lokpal bill will be passed in a matter of weeks and months. The Parliament too had passed a resolution that the MPs wanted such a bill to be passed.

However, nearly a year later, the bill is no closer to being passed than it was when Hazare went on fast in 2011.

The government has not even been able to finalize the provisions of the bill, which is currently stuck in scrutiny by a Parliamentary committee.

“We will not stop with assurances,” Hazare, who held a joint press conference with Baba Ramdev, said.

“They have repeatedly cheated us. It went to standing committee, we were cheated there. It went to the Parliament, we were cheated there,” Hazare said.

Most of the members of the Indian Parliament are opposed to setting up a strong anti-corruption ombudsman. India ranks consistently at the bottom of annual reports published by Transparency International, which measures the amount of corruption and bribes prevalent in a country.

Hazare and Ramdev both noted that they had very little hope of getting anything done from the current government, without strong pressure from the people.

“I think they are afraid that if they put in place a strong Lokpal, half the cabinet will be in jail,” Hazare said.

Baba Ramdev too echoed the words. “Why are they not keen on legislating against unaccounted-for money? What is the deeper reason for this,” Ramdev asked. Many have alleged that several leading politicians of India have huge amounts of money stashed away in foreign accounts.

The two figures have come together to lead the second round of agitations next month, they announced.