At a hunger strike attended by thousands in Delhi today, Anna Hazare warned the government that unless it introduces the new Lokpal Bill against corruption by August 15, he will begin another fast.
Mr Hazare's fast at Rajghat, which houses Mahatma Gandhi's memorial, had two points to make. Activists wanted to prove that public support is tipped overwhelmingly in Mr Hazare's favour as he battles the government on corruption. The demonstration was also a formal vote against the action taken by the government against Baba Ramdev last weekend - the yoga teacher's camp packed with 65,000 supporters was dismantled by the police late at night.
"A fast is not a crime," said Mr Hazare today to his audience. "This is equal to what happened at Jallianwala Bagh. The only difference is that bullets were not fired." The comparison to the British atrocities has been made throughout this week, both by activists and by Opposition parties who have accused the government of trying to supercede the right to democratic protest.
In an attempt to not repeat its mistakes, the police was present in hundreds at Rajghat today. Mr Hazare said the security meant little to him. "If our freedom fighters had sought security, we would not have got Independence," he said.
But it was his description of his campaign as "a second freedom movement" that evoked the fiercest response from the government. "Anna has called for a second freedom movement...a second freedom movement against whom?" asked Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan. "What he has said today is unacceptable. A second freedom movement against whom? This is a lawfully-elected government..a parliament elected by the people of India. To launch a parallel movement by people who proclaim they will not stand for election is a complete subversion."
The week has witnessed rapidly-deteriorating relations between the government and Team Anna. In April, Mr Hazare's lengthy hunger strike became the epicentre of a public outpouring of frustration against what appeared to be ubiquitous corruption within politicians and bureaucrats. Mr Hazare urged middle class India to shake off its inertia and join him. Across India, lakhs heeded his call with protests and fasts. Stumped, the government agreed to Mr Hazare's directive - that the government introduce the long delayed and debated Lokpal Bill and that his activists be allowed to help draft it.
The result was the Lokpal Bill joint drafting committee which teams five ministers with five activists headed by Mr Hazare. Their agenda is to introduce the new bill in Parliament by June 30. It's increasingly seeming like Mission Impossible. The government has refused features that the activists say are imperative - like videotaping meetings of the committee, and holding public debates on the Bill. The biggest point of difference is whether the Prime Minister's office should be covered by the Bill - the government says it cannot.
Since the disaster that unfolded at the Ramdev camp, both sides have vented their frustration publically. On Monday, senior minister Kapil Sibal said Mr Hazare's description of the government as one filled with cheats and liars was unacceptable. He also warned that the government would not tolerate "the undermining of democratic institutions." Ticking off the activists for boycotting a meeting of the Lokpal Bill, Mr Sibal said if the activists don't get back to work, the government will plough ahead.
Team Anna has retaliated today by stating that it does intend to participate in future meetings of the Lokpal committee; however, it said it will not compromise features whose exclusion will leave the new law toothless.
"Why is the Prime Minister so scared of bringing himself within the ambit of the Lokpal? It's not like we are rigid. What choice do we have? What do we compromise on?" questioned Arvind Kejriwal, a member of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee.