Mumbai, Aug. 6: As death threats go, this one was different. But the warning seems to be working.
Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, who demanded an end to political interference in police transfers and a right to information bill and threatened to go on an indefinite fast, said in a letter to L.K. Advani that the deputy Prime Minister will be responsible if his hunger-strike ends in death.
“I may be frail but I will not be felled,” said Hazare, who is set to begin his fast on August 9.
His threat seems to be working. A cabinet sub-committee formed to look into allegations of transfers for money in police and other departments — depicted by IPS officer Y.P. Singh in his book Carnage by Angels — has declared they are ready to promulgate an ordinance barring political interference in police transfers.
Sources said an “authority will soon be formed that will look into the aspect of police transfers and, perhaps, even handle it”.
In the letter to Advani, the social worker said he should put pressure on the President so that the latter “gives his assent to the Maharashtra Right to Information Bill, 2002, (as adopted by the state legislature in 2003) and returns it to the state for enforcement before the indefinite fast begins on August 9”.
The letter went on to say: “I am sure you are aware of my resolve to go on a fast unto death from the Martyrs’ Day on August 9 at Kranti Maidan…. I regret to note, however, that no concrete step has yet been initiated by you in the matter of the bill (and) I am, therefore, painfully constrained to bring to your notice that the onus of my fast unto death, with respect to my demand, will solely be on you.”
Hazare’s other demands are absolute powers for gram sabhas according to the 73rd amendment to the Constitution and immediate action in 739 corruption cases sent to the chief minister (Sushil Kumar Shinde) 18 months ago. He also demanded information on police transfers made during the last one year.
But topping Hazare’s wish-list is action against four powerful ministers — Sureshdada Jain, Vijay Kumar Gavit, Padmasinh Patil and Nawab Malik — who he alleges are corrupt.
The crusader’s fight is, however, just beginning. The ministers have jointly and separately opened an anti-Hazare front. Slapping a defamation case on Hazare, Jain, who is the food and civil supplies minister, said: “Hazare is indulging in graft in the name of a crusade against corruption.”