NEW DELHI, June 8 (IANS): Gandhian activist Anna Hazare Wednesday accused the government of trying to scuttle the proposed Lokpal Bill aimed at ending corruption in high places.
A little over two hours after he began a day-long fast at Rajghat, Hazare also called the mounting nationwide campaign against corruption as India's second independence struggle.
Not mincing words, the 73-year-old took on the government for more reaons than one.
"They are putting roadblocks on the path of the Lokpal Bill," he said, and charged the government with trying to defame his associates, including Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal.
"They tried to defame Prashant Bhusahn and Shanti Bhushan. They tried to find out how much property Arvind (Kejriwal) has... Why do all this?"
The Bhushans, Hazare, Kejriwal and Santosh Hegde form the civil society representatives in a 10-member panel set up to frame a tough Lokpal Bill.
Hazare said the primary reason for his fast Wednesday was to protest the police crackdown on yoga guru Baba Ramdev and thousands of supporters here after midnight Saturday.
"The government should not have done at Ramlila ground what it did," he said to repeated cheers from the thousands gathered at Rajghat, many unceasingly waving the Indian flag.
"And they did it at 1.30 at night. They lathi-chrged sleeping people. What injustice had they (people) done? It is a blot on humanity. It was like throttling democracy."
He compared the police action, which left more than 100 people injured, some seriously, with the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar during the British Raj -- "except that there was no firing here".
"We need to bring a Lokpal Bill to put a brake on corruption. The joint committee meetings are going on. But the government keeps putting obstacles.
"If that continues, the fight for independence which began here at Jantar Mantar April 5 will have to be fought all over the country."
He later said if a desired Lokpal Bill was not passed, he would again launch an indefinite hunger strike Aug 16.
He also asked the government to decentralise power, vesting more authority with the panchayats.
"We have started the second independence struggle but you should not back off. We will be ready to die but we will not surrender."