Veteran social activist Anna Hazare on Tuesday began a fast unto death in the capital demanding enactment of a comprehensive Jan Lokpal Bill to give wider powers to Ombudsman to check corruption.
Joined by scores of people including noted reformist Swami Agnivesh, former IPS officer and activist Kiran Bedi and Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey, 72-year-old Hazare began his hunger strike at Jantar Mantar after paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.
"I will observe fast-unto-death till the government agrees to form a joint committee comprising 50% officials and the remaining citizens and intellectuals to draft the Jan Lokpal Bill," Hazare said at Rajghat.
He then proceeded to India Gate in an open jeep where tricolour waving supporters, including school students were present.
Hazare went ahead with his agitation despite the Prime Minister's Office last night expressing disappointment over his decision to go on fast unto death. The PMO release said that the Prime Minister has enormous respect for Hazare and his mission.
"The Prime Minister says we trust you (Hazare), we respect you. But, then why did the PM not sit with us even once after the meeting last month," Hazare said.
The anti-corruption crusader said he was disappointed after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had in the last meeting with social activists over the proposed law to tackle corruption rejected their demand for a joint committee.
"If the government alone drafts this bill, it will be autocratic not democratic, there will be discrepancies," Hazare, who has observed fast to protest against corruption many times in the past too, said.
He lamented that views of eminent persons like Justice (Retd) Santosh Hegde, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Agnivesh "were not considered important by the government".
Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav, who was present to show solidarty with Hazare, said he was convinced that the Jan Lokpal Bill was the need of the hour to tackle corruption in the country.
"Just as Election Commission and Supreme Court are effective bodies, similarly an institution which is to fight corruption has to be equally powerful," Yadav said
"I approve of the draft prepared by Hazareji and others. I am willing to back it in Parliament," Yadav said.