The war of words between the government and Anna Hazare's team intensified on Wednesday. Both sides preferred to stick to their respective positions, amid a remote possibility of talks in the coming days.
The eighth day of the fast by Arvind Kejriwal, Gopal Rai and Manish Sisodia saw accusations and counter-accusations over their deteriorating health condition.
Amid reports that Kejriwal was unable to even sit, he appeared on stage and warned the government against making any attempt to forcibly shift him to hospital. “The government has hatched a conspiracy to shift me to hospital, I will resist it,” he said.
Information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni dismissed the charge saying it was the duty of the government to protect the lives of its citizens. “From where has this talk of conspiracy come?” she questioned.
Nervous team Anna members also brought the issue of insensitivity from the government side in not initiating any dialogue with their colleagues on fast.
Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi took potshots at team Anna. “We wish them good health and hope good sense will prevail,” he said.
Digvijaya Singh, however, favoured a dialogue between team Anna and the government, but said it should not be at “gunpoint” even as he sought an end to their fast first.
“Government cannot allow people to die...being insensitive. Therefore, the government has to look into this. My own experience as a chief minister has been that all these issues must be sorted out in a democracy, through dialogue,” Singh, who has been a bitter critic of Team Anna, said. The comments of new home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, however, indicated that the chances of an early dialogue appeared remote.
“Team Anna says one thing from the stage and the other somewhere else. Anna sahib then speaks something completely different. What can be done in such a situation?” he said.
BJP, RSS keep off Team Anna agitation
As Team Anna's indefinite fast entered its eighth day on Wednesday, the BJP and RSS — supporters of the earlier fasts of Anna Hazare in Delhi — maintained a studied distance.
While the BJP brushed aside questions on the government's staying away from negotiating with Team Anna, RSS leader Ram Madhav, who had visited Jantar Mantar during Hazare's fast last year, refused comment on the present fast when specifically asked. “Ask the government and Team Anna,” was BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar's curt reply when asked whether the government should talk to Team Anna. With a hint of sarcasm, Javadekar also referred to Anna supporters' slogan shouting in front of the BJP office: “This is a strange way of extending an invitation to support the agitation.”
This stance was a far cry from the BJP's spirited defence of Hazare in Parliament during his marathon fast last year, and party chief Nitin Gadkari's letter to Hazare underlining that the party wouldn't desert him.
-Vikas Pathak, New Delhi