Social activist Anna Hazare and yoga guru Baba Ramdev will sit on a
day-long fast in the national capital today as a mark of their protest
against corruption and black money stashed away by Indians abroad.
"The protest will take place in the capital at Jantar Mantar, in all
state capitals and in 650 districts across the country," Baba Ramdev
said at a press conference in Delhi on Friday.
The yoga guru said he would be joined by Anna Hazare during his day-long
hunger strike. Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and
Kiran Bedi will also participate in the protest.
The yoga guru said their protest in Delhi would start at 6 am. The
protest also marks a year of the police crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his
supporters in the capital's Ramlila Maidan while they were protesting
against black money. The police action had led to the death of a woman.
Thousands of people are expected to join the protest, said Baba Ramdev,
who would reach Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital after paying
homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat at 10 am.
"Our protest is against black money, corruption in government, and for a
strong Lokpal. June 3 will mark the beginning of our protest, which
will continue in four phases. We will also decide our future course that
day," he said.
Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare will break their fast at 6 pm. This will be
then followed by candle marches and protest rallies in several districts
across the country.
Today's fast comes in the wake of fresh corruption allegations made by
Team Anna against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and 14 of his cabinet
Team Anna has alleged that the Prime Minister misused his position
during 2006-2009 to allot coal fields at highly under-valued rates to
private players. The PM was in charge of the Coal Ministry during this
time. Team Anna says he ignored advice from bureaucrats to auction the
coal fields; as a result, private companies paid far less than they
should have, and the government lost 1.8 lakh crores, according to some
estimates. The issue has been studied by the government's auditor and
its draft report was leaked in March, after which Comptroller and
Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai said the leaked portions were
The Prime Minister's Office issued a detailed rebuttal of these
allegations through a press statement earlier this week. It said that
coalfields were intended to boost development, industry and
infrastructure, not revenue.
The Prime Minister too delivered an uncharacteristically aggressive
rebuttal. "To use such words, which have been used without reason or
rhyme, I think, the public in India should make up its mind whether this
sort of politics will rule the roost in the country," he said. He also
promised to resign if "even an iota of truth" was found in the charges
of corruption levelled against him.
The charges against the PM were first publicly announced by Team Anna
members like Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday. They want
the PM to sanction a Special Investigation Team (SIT) by July 24 to
study their charges against him and other ministers. They have warned of
an indefinite hunger strike if their request is not accepted.
The CBI, meanwhile, has agreed to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the
scam that's been nicknamed Coal-Gate. The CBI's inquiry is based on a
complaint filed by BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Prakash Javadekar. He
had approached the Central Vigilance Commission or CVC which forwarded
his complaint to the CBI. The CBI's mission so far does not name anyone;
it says the inquiry is against "unknown officials of the coal
ministry." The inquiry will also not probe government policy. It will
look at how 156 companies were allotted 65 coal blocks, and whether
these companies were ineligible and violated the terms of their