Open for talks, says fasting Hazare


New Delhi : A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for “give and take” on the Lokpal bill, activist Anna Hazare Sunday said he was open for a dialogue but refused to give up his fast till parliament passes an anti-corruption bill framed by civil society activists.

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“The path of negotiations is not closed for us. It is still open. Only through dialogue can issues be resolved,” the 74-year-old told crowds that packed the spacious Ramlila ground here on the sixth days of his hunger strike in support of an effective anti-corruption legislation.

“Politicians are our own people. But after getting elected they forget that they are servants of the people, who are the real masters. We chose them to represent us, and not do what they wanted. But they have turned traitors. So this movement has become necessary,” he said.

“Hold talks how much ever you want to. But we will not budge from the Jan Lokpal,” he asserted, drawing huge applause from the thousands gathered at the Ramlila ground in the heart of the city.

Hazare’s reference is to the civil society version of Lokpal Bill that they say is a far better version than the government-sponsored Lokpal Bill which keeps the prime minister, the judiciary and the mass of government employees out of its ambit.

His comments came a day after the prime minister Saturday sought a “give and take” on the Lokpal bill, indicating his willingness to end the stand-off with Hazare and his aides.

Looking as energetic as ever despite six days of fasting, the Gandhian declared the time had come for people to demonstrate before the residences of MPs across the country to press them to pass the civil society-drafted Jan Lokpal bill.

Hazare drew a parallel to Dusshera festival that takes place annually at Ramlila Ground and said corruption was the present day Ravan, which had to be destroyed.

He said the anti-corruption protest had the backing of all religious groups.

“This revolution we are witnessing in India today is different from many a revolution witnessed worldwide.

“Here it is happening without bloodbath or causing inconvenience to the general public. This is non-violent and there is a lesson in this movement for the world at large.”

Meanwhile, activists of India Against Corruption group told IANS Sunday that Hazare’s health was stable.

The volunteer added that a meeting of Hazare and his close aides was held in the morning but the subject discussed was not known.

An estimated 10,000 people assembled at the Ramlila Ground Sunday morning, raising slogans in support of Hazare. The crowds had swelled by noon.

Hazare began his indefinite fast Aug 16 soon after his detention while he was proceeding to the J.P. Park.

The same day he was taken to Tihar Jail, where he remained until Friday when he shifted to the Ramlila Ground.