Anna hints August agitation may turn into a ‘jail bharo’ campaign for Lokpal

Veteran Gandhian and the head of India’s anti-corruption movement, Anna Hazare welcomed the threat by the Congress party to use force against him when he conducts the second round of fast and agitation for a tough ombudsman to fight corruption.

In doing so, he seemed to hint at the possibility of the August agitation turning into a ‘jail bharo’ andholan. The Congress-led government is already extremely nervous of Anna’s threat to conduct a second round of agitation for the institution of a strong anti-corruption ombudsman, Lokpal.

Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh had yesterday said that if Anna Hazare sits on a protest in August, he may get the same treatment as was meted out to Baba Ramdev, a Yogi guru who found thousands of his sleeping protesters set upon by cane-wielding policemen at 1 am in the night.

“It’s good. I welcome them to take such a step in a democracy,” Anna said, in his typical, Gandhian style. Anna, unlike Baba Ramdev, has never issued any threats or indications of resistance to the use of force, following the teachings of Gandhi.

Gandhi too used to insist on absolute non-violence from his followers, even in the face armed attack from the policemen, then controlled by the British rulers. Anna too seems to be on a similar path. During his last fast three weeks ago, he had warned his followers about a possible attack by the police.

“I want all of you to remain peaceful. If they come to arrest us, we will let them arrest us. We shall not resist,” he said.

On the other hand, Baba Ramdev, a Yog guru, had tried to evade arrest, partly because he was tipped off by someone in the government that the government intended to finish him off after arresting him.

Anna and his followers are expected to court arrests in large numbers and kick off a ‘jail bharo’ (fill up the jails) agitation on the lines of similar campaigns launched by Gandhi during India’s independence struggle 70 years ago. The British Government would then be forced to let off the prisoners when the jails started over-flowing.

Anna and the Government are not agreeable on the powers, the mode of appointment and removal and the structure of the planned Lokpal institution.


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