Lokpal Bill battle: Team Anna writes open letter to PM, MPs; government steps up attack

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Lokpal Bill battle: Team Anna writes open letter to PM, MPs; government steps up attack
Ralegan Siddhi:  As Congress has stepped up its attack on Anna Hazare with less than two days to go before his scheduled fast at Mumbai's MMRDA Ground, Team Anna's India Against Corruption (IAC) group today wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister and Members of Parliament, re-voicing their demand for a 'stronger' Lokpal Bill. (Read letter)

The letter has been reportedly drafted by Anna's close aide Arvind Kejriwal, who is expected to arrive in Mumbai this evening to oversee the preparations at the MMRDA Ground, the venue for Anna Hazare's three-day fast.

With large crowds expected at the MMRDA Ground, Team Anna is preparing in full swing. This would be Anna's fourth fast of the year, his first in Mumbai.

"The strength of Team Anna is rising with more and more people joining every day. Many people would be joining Anna during his protest at the MMRDA Ground. Others would protest in their hometowns. We are still expecting the government will give the kind of (anti-graft) law that people are demanding," said Team Anna member Manish Sisodia.

Social activist Medha Patkar said, "The government's Lokpal Bill is weak. Just being thick in pages doesn't make it strong. Just like a fat man is not necessarily strong. Lokpal has been turned into a Post Office with the CVC, CBI, grievance redressal, judiciary and Parliament all out of it. What is under Lokpal's ambit then? What is the need of such a Lokpal? All corruption cases at all levels should be under the Lokpal, which will not be an individual or a committee, but an authority. And make it constitutional to make it strong."

Meanwhile, Congress leaders continued to hit out at Anna, alleging the social activist is being backed politically.

"Anna ji has the right to have an ideology of his own. If he stays along with the RSS, supports it or vice versa, that is his own decision. But I believe it's important to have ones' views and ideology clear. One needs to be honest," said Congress leader Rashid Alvi.

Newly-appointed Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, said "When he was leading a non-political movement, he got support from all the quarters but now when he (Anna Hazare) has entered into politics he would get to know how things work."

Despite criticism by the government and some political parties, Anna has decided to go ahead with the fast, followed by a fill-the-jail agitation against the "watered down" Lokpal Bill tabled in Parliament.

There was speculation about Anna's health after there were reports that he has caught cold, but Anna's physician said that the 74-year-old social activist is fit and is ready for his three-day fast against a "weak" Lokpal Bill.

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