Hazare warns of another fast, government says no reason
Anna Hazare today threatened to launch another hunger strike if a strong Lokpal Bill is not passed in the winter session of Parliament, but the government discounted any reason for such threats and said it was committed to a strong ombudsman. Anna's letter to PM | Is it fair for Anna Hazare to threaten govt? Your say...delhi Updated: Nov 01, 2011 20:32 IST
Anna Hazare on Tuesday threatened to launch another hunger strike if a strong Lokpal Bill is not passed in the winter session of Parliament, but the government discounted any reason for such threats and said it was committed to a strong ombudsman.
Team Anna, itself under criticism over collection and handling of funds, also unveiled details of donations receivde and expenses incurred during its agitations for a strong Lokpal bill.
The team said it would return Rs 42.55 lakh of Rs 2.94 crore it received in donations due to lack of clarity about the donors, but Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh took a dig at the offer, saying: "Only the super heroes can collect from unknown and return them".
The reference was obliquely to Kiran Bedi, a Team Anna member and former police officer who received Police Gallantry Award, who was alleged to have collected business class air fares from sponsors while actually buying low-cost tickets and offered to return the excess money.
Hazare, who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday but released on Tuesday, warned the government that he would tour the five states scheduled to go to the polls early next year and campaign for "clean candidates" without naming any party.
The 74-year-old activist, who is on a maun vrat or vow of silence, wrote: "I had adjourned my fast and agitation due to your assurance."
"I am keeping faith that a strong Lokpal Bill will come in the winter session of Parliament. But your party and responsible people in your government are trying to create suspicion by irresponsible talk. If a strong Jan Lokpal Bill is not passed in the winter session, I will start that agitation from the last day of (the) winter session," Hazare wrote.
The winter session of Parliament begins Nov 22 and ends Dec 21.
Reacting to his statement, the government said it saw "no reason for such a warning" as it was committed to "a strong, effective and powerful" anti-graft law.
Information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni said: "I do not see any reason for bringing pressure on the government as the parliamentary affairs minister, the leader of the Lok Sabha, Congress leaders and the prime minister himself have repeatedly emphasised that a strong, effective and powerful instrument like the Lokpal will be put in place."
Law minister Salman Khurshid wondered "what is the meaning of the threat".
Hazare in his letter said he ended his 12-day fast in August at Delhi's Ramlila ground -- an event that caused tremors across the country -- after the Prime Minister vowed to legislate a strong Lokpal bill.
He added that he adjourned his agitation on a written assurance by the government, because of which he also cancelled his tour to the five states that go to elections next year.
Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur are due in the first half of 2012.
Hazare held two hunger strikes in New Delhi in April and August, pressing the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for a strong Lokpal to check corruption at high places.
The government was forced to accept his demands. A Parliamentary standing committee is currently examining the draft of the bill.
Hazare also sent a copy of his letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Khurshid.
Citizens movement India Against Corruption (IAC), headed by Anna Hazare, announced on its website that Team Anna received Rs 2.94 crore in donations in the six months since Anna Hazare began his first fast in April. During his August protest at the Ramlila ground, Rs 1.14 crore were collected.
Of this, Rs 42.55 lakh would be returned due to lack of clarity about the donors, IAC said.
Of the Rs 2.51 crore left, Team Anna has spent Rs 1.5 crore in the past six months - Rs 52.27 lakh on public meetings, mainly the Ramlila ground agitation.
The details of accounts came in the wake of allegations by former Team Anna member Swami Agnivesh that donations made at Ramlila ground had not been accounted for and were deposited in the account of an NGO associated with Hazare's key aide, Arvind Kejriwal.
Digvijaya Singh, who has been taking on the members of Team Anna over controversies surrounding them, took a fresh dig at them on Tuesday.
"Super Team Anna to do an impossible Act. Return 40 lakh to unknown donoRs Only the super heroes can collect from unknown and return them," he said in his Twitter post.
IAC sources said that lack of clarity of donors pertained to about Rs 42 lakh received through online transfer and cheques and it was possible to return the money.
First Published: Nov 01, 2011 20:25 IST