The stand-off between the government and civil society activists on the proposed Lok Pal Bill continued on Friday as the government rejected anti-corruption protesters' demand for having a former Supreme Court judge as head of a committee for drafting an anti-graft law and on notifying the constitution of the panel.
Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal said he had conveyed to Arvind Kejriwal and Swami Agnivesh, two civil society activists backing reformer Anna Hazare who has been on fast for the last four days, the government's disagreement over two of their important proposals.
Unhappy with the Govt's response to their demand, veteran activist Anna Hazare decided to continue his fast-unto-death, which has entered the fourth day now. Hazare also asked his supporters to court arrest on April 13 to teach the government a lesson. Hazare asked people to stick to non-violence during the agitation. After first announcing April 12 as the date for the agitation, he later changed it April 13 citing holiday on the earlier date.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met President Pratibha Patil and briefed her about the efforts being made to resolve the issue. A meeting will take place in the evening between the Govt and Hazare's representatives Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal in an attempt to end the deadlock.
Social activist Swami Agnivesh is hopeful that an "honourable resolution" would be found soon to the stalemate over the Lokpal Bill issue soon.
Meanwhile, support for Hazare's movement is swelling across the nation and among all section of the society. Actors, politicians, activists, corporates, authors and people from all walks of life have come out in his support.
Extending his support, actor Amitabh Bachchan today said he would always back issues that benefit the country and also called upon the media to commit themselves to the cause.
"I shall always be supportive of any issue which benefits the nation. I do not have to preach and shout out my allegiance towards my country from the roof top every day.
My loyalty is not up for questioning and is not most certainly in a realm where it can be doubted," Bachchan wrote on his blog.
Large number of people participated in marches organised in many cities all over the country. Hazare's growing sea of supporters includes doctors, lawyers, teachers, students and homemakers.
Friday saw actor Anupam Kher and Pritish Nandy sitting at Jantar Mantar in support of the movement.
The movement is also garnering support on social networking sites and has even shaken the corporate sector. Executives from various multi-national companies (MNCs) located in Gurgaon have visited Jantar Mantar, where Hazare is sitting on an indefinite hunger strike. Some even volunteered to keep a fast along with him over the weekend.
Speaking at Jantar Mantar, Anupam kher appealed Sachin Tendulkar, Sharukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan to come and support the Lokpal Bill. In a letter to the Prime Minister, actor Aamir Khan has asking him to pay heed to Hazare. "With great hope and all humility I request you to pay heed to the voice of Mr Anna Hazare. The nation is slowly but surely collecting behind Mr Hazare in appreciation for what he is fighting for," wrote Aamir.
Some other famous personalities have also backed Anna Hazare.
"I agree with Aamir Khan: Anna Hazare deserves greater support than the cricket team. Please show your support for Hazare ji," tweeted Indian cricket captain, MS Dhoni.
Filmmaker Farhan Akhtar wrote, "I support Anna Hazare. Our country has suffered from corruption for too long... Now is the time we get together and do something about it."
"Just read about Anna Hazare ... I pledge my support to this cause," posted actor Priyanka Chopra.