With just over a month to go for his proposed indefinite strike in support for a stronger Lokpal Bill, activist Anna Hazare on Saturday announced a countrywide blackout on August 16, the day his fast begins.
Appealing to citizens across the country to support what he called "the second war for independence", Hazare said everyone should switch off lights between 8pm and 9pm on that day and come out on the streets in support of the Jan Lokpal bill, the civil society version of the contentious draft legislation.
Commenting on reports of corruption against the Centre, Hazare put the onus on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for stemming the rot.
Hazare was in the city for the inauguration of the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that he has founded. Although the NGO has been active in the city for quite some time, this is the first registered office of the NGO, which will be its headquarters, said Bhavesh Patel, the Mumbai district president of the organisation. The office is located at Perin Nariman Street in the Fort.
Speaking to reporters at the inauguration, Hazare said he was ready to face a situation similar to the one faced by Baba Ramdev's followers in Delhi.
Hazare said he was ready to "face bullets and not just lathis", in case there was any threat to his proposed agitation. "The Congress that threatens to crush my agitations is not the Congress of Mahatma Gandhi and Kamraj. This is a democracy and not a dictatorship," said the activist.
When asked to comment on the spate of allegations of corruption against Union ministers, Hazare said, "As the head of the cabinet, it is the prime minister's job to ensure that his ministers have impeccable character and integrity."
Dismissing criticism by telecom minister Kapil Sibal on the role of activists on the Lokpal Bill issue, Hazare reminded the government at the Centre that it was late Rajiv Gandhi who sought their opinion while enacting the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments for the Panchayati Raj system in the country.
(With agency inputs)