New Delhi: Social activist Anna Hazare's hunger strike in New Delhi demanding changes in the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill entered the second day on Wednesday. The anti-corruption campaign began has now been joined by thousands of people with more than 150 people joining Hazare’s fast-unto-death at the Jantar Mantar.
Almost 5,000 people from all walks of life have gathered at Jantar Mantar to show their support for Hazare. Social activists and people in 400 cities all across India and foreign countries have come out in support of Hazare.
In Bhopal thousands of people signed on a postcard addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi demanding introduction of Lokpal Bill in Parliament. Social activists and people in Lucknow, led by Medha Patkar, have backed Hazare's crusade.
There have been massive protests in Maharashtra too with people coming out in support of Hazare in large numbers in Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik and several other cities.
In Hazare's Ralegan Siddhi village in Ahmednagar district, his supporters are on relay-fast in solidarity with the soldier-turned-crusader.
Hazare has been especially critical of Union Agriculture Minister and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar's presence in the Group of Minister, saying there is no place for corrupt politicians on the panel.
"The committee won't be able to do anything. Ministers have no will to fight corruption. One of the ministers in the committee is himself corrupt. I am talking about Sharad Pawar. Till Pawar is there there's no point the committee. I don't even want to meet them. I will continue my fast until death. I don't even mind dying for the nation," Hazare said.
The social activist and former Army jawan also took on the Congress and slammed that party for "misleading" the people by dubbing his agitation as unnecessary and premature.
"The party's (Congress) statement is misleading people. Why is this agitation unnecessary and how is it premature? For 42 years the nation has been in need of such a bill. Why can't the government enact it?" asked Hazare.
Hazare made the statement after the Congress hit back at the social activist claiming his hunger strike was just to blackmail the Government.
"Each and everyone of those activists bear far greater responsibility for this state of affairs. It is they who will lose face, it is they who have to be asked the question. What prevents them to coming to the talking table please answer? We are putting a very low threshold. How can you justify not talking without preconditions at the prior and threshold stage," said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
Another Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said that the party wanted Hazare to break his fast and join the Government for talks. But Hazare said he was yet to get an invite.
Making it clear that his agitation was non-political, Hazare said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has also launched an anti-corruption campaign, was taking advantage of the nationwide movement he had begun.
BJP leaders Maneka Gandhi, Prakash Javadekar and Janata Dal (United) chief chief Sharad Yadav visited Hazare's protest site at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, Yadav also sat on the dais with Hazare and offered his support for the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Hazare later said he would not allow any politician to sit with him on the dais.