New Delhi: Already under fire for the crackdown on Baba Ramdev and his supporters at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, the government on Sunday suffered another setback with civil society activists deciding to boycott Monday's meeting of the Lokpal Bill joint drafting committee.
Terming the incidents at the Ramlila Maidan as the reason for their boycott, the five-member team of civil society representatives led by Gandhian Anna Hazare condemned the Centre for the midnight police action.
"We condemn this action. This is a blot on humanity... This is like throttling democracy" Mr Hazare said.
"After incidents of last night, it clearly shows the government's intention on crushing corruption. Hence, we have decided not to attend the joint meeting on Lokpal Bill tomorrow", eminent lawyer and co-chairman of the Lokpal panel Shanti Bhushan said.
The civil society representatives also threatened a pullout if future meetings of the joint committee weren't telecast live.
"In view of the government's barbaric actions, since its intentions to remove corruption have become suspect, we will attend any future meetings of the joint committee only if they were telecast live", Mr Hazare said.
This casts a serious shadow on the future of the joint Lokpal panel which was marred by serious disagreements between the government and civil society group in its last meeting.
Accusing the government of not being serious about dealing with corruption, Mr Hazare also announced a day-long fast on June 8 at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. "Wherever you may be, you may stage a fast. And pray to god to give wisdom to this government", Mr Hazare said.
BJP leaders also upped the ante, and the senior leaders led an overnight satyagraha at Rajghat.
The latest call for a fast by Team Anna is bound to set alarm bells ringing for the government. Mr Hazare led an immensely successful five-day fast against corruption at the same venue in April, forcing the government to finally accede to the demand of inclusion of civil society representatives for the framing of a Citizen's Ombudsman Bill (Jan Lokpal Bill).
Mr Bhushan also demanded an explanation from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over what provoked the police action on Mr Ramdev's supporters.