As support for anti-corruption movement surges across the country, nine opposition parties announce protests on 23rd August for effective legislation
New Delhi: Anna Hazare, who has become a forceful symbol of people's anger against corruption in the country, today vowed to continue his hunger protest till a strong legislation is passed to deal with the scourge. Addressing a huge gathering soon after he reached Ramlila Maidan from Tihar Jail, the 74-year-old crusader said, "We will not leave this ground till the Jan Lokpal Bill is brought."
A jubilant crowd cheered the Gandhian leader as he stepped out of Tihar jail this morning to continue his hunger protest in public, after the government first jailed him on Tuesday, then ordered his release, but when he refused to leave, even agreed to allow him to stage his protest.
"The fight for freedom has begun", "Bharat Mata ki Jai", he shouted, as he stepped out of the gates of the jail to a deafening roar from supporters, and then travelled on a truck decorated with flags slowly through the crowds to Ramlila Maidan.
In his address at Ramlila Maidan, Mr Hazare said, "There was a revolution in 1942 because of which the British had to quit India. But the loot and rowdyism have not stopped. That is why the second freedom struggle has begun. Do not allow this torch of struggle to be put out whether Anna is alive or not," he told the crowd.
Hazare's anti-corruption crusade which has gained unprecedented support from various sections around the country, received a further boost today with nine opposition parties, including the Left parties, announcing that they would jointly organise nationwide protests next week to demand effective legislation to curb corruption in high places.
"We have decided to conduct demonstrations, dharnas and other forms of protests all over the country against rampant corruption and the growing attacks on democratic rights," on 23rd August, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat told a news conference after a meeting of the nine parties in the national capital.
CPI general secretary AB Bardhan said, "We may even demand its (the government Lokpal Bill) withdrawal if necessary." Mr Karat said the parties would also express their opinion before the parliamentary standing committee looking into the legislation.
Also present at the conference were N Chandrababu Naidu (Telugu Desam Party), HD Deve Gowda (JD-S), Ajit Singh (Rashtriya Lok Dal), Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc), Abani Roy (Revolutionary Socialist Party). M Thambidurai of the AIADMK and Bhratruhari Mahtab of the Biju Janata Dal also attended the meeting.
To a question whether the nine parties would coordinate with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA, Mr Karat said the nine parties would organise their own programmes. "The NDA has also expressed that the government version of the Bill does not serve the purpose," he said. Reports continue to pour in of gathering support for a strong anti-graft law.
Today, government employees in RAJASTHAN decided to join the agitation with a half-day mass leave post-lunch. "We have given a call for half-day mass leave and a candle march will be taken out at Ambedkar circle (in Jaipur) in the evening. We as citizens are with Anna. We want to give a message that we are not corrupt and we are also against corruption," said Mahendra Chaudhary, a representative of the state employees federation.
Traders also staged a dharna at Badi Chaupad in the walled city. Wearing black ribbons on their arms, they raised slogans in support of Mr Hazare.
In MUMBAI, dabbawalas who deliver tiffins to over two lakh customers at their work places, today took a break from their daily routine to support social activist Anna Hazare in the fight against corruption. "We don't have any demands of our own. We are here for Anna," said a dabbawala who was among those who joined the protestors at the Azad Maidan.
"In the last 120 years, we have been on the job, come rain or shine. We never stop work. But we decided to back Anna's agitation as it is for a just cause," said Sopan Mare of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers' Association.
Asked about the inconvenience caused to customers, Mr Mare said, "They will not mind it. They know we are supporting a just cause." Over 5,000 dabbawalas walked in a procession from the Churchgate railway terminal to Azad Maidan a little before noon.
In JAMMU, several people took out protest marches and sat on dharna for a fourth consecutive day today in support of the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party state secretary Manoj Kumar led his party activists on a dharna near the city railway station. They shouted slogans condemning the arrest of Anna Hazare and demanded that the prime minister and judges be brought under the check of the Lokpal.
"Accountability should start from the top with the prime minister. Rules and regulations are equal for the prime minister as they are for the common man," Mr Kumar said. "The PM and the judges should also be made accountable and come under the Lokpal."
Over 500 girls from schools in GCW Gandhi Nagar marched in a peaceful procession. They raised slogans of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Vande Matram', and appeared excited about the release of Anna Hazare from jail.
This morning, lecturers at Government Gandhi Memorial Science College marched in a candle-light procession on the campus in an expression of support for the anti-corruption campaign.
Arun Kandroo, general secretary of the All Party Migrants Coordination Committee, led activists in a demonstration in the Bagwati area and urged people to join the campaign for a strong anti-corruption legislation.
"The demand by Anna Hazare is every common man's wish. A strong Lokpal will ensure accountability from the top, starting with the prime minister. Scams after scams have shaken the faith of the common people in the government and the rulers," Mr Kandroo said. "There should be Jan Lokpal and not the government-formulated weak Lokpal which has loose ends that can help offenders escape punishment."
Launches a distinctive movement-‘Health Promise’ at the Lakme Fashion Week 2011
Max Bupa, a specialist health insurance company, has introduced health movement - 'Health Promise'. The movement, aimed at creating awareness about the importance of being healthy, will connect with the public at large through Max Bupa's commitment of enabling people to live healthier and by being their healthcare partners for life.
The initiative which was introduced at the Lakme Fashion Week propagates the idea of healthy living and remaining fit amongst its universal audience and at the same time encourages them to make a health promise for people they care about. As part of the initiative, Max Bupa also gave a preview of a website, www.YourHealthFirst.in, which will enable the people to keep their promises for loved ones by actionable tips, health advice and health information.
Dr Damien Marmion, CEO, Max Bupa said, "To achieve this, Max Bupa has launched a health movement-'Health Promise', which will enable people to give priority to their health first and at the same time encourage them to make a health promise for their loved ones. The initiative is being launched against the backdrop of the Lakme Fashion Week. Our tie up with Lakme Fashion Week is part of our endeavour to promote healthy and positive living among people."
NFO opens on August 22nd and closes on 5th September
SBI Mutual Fund has launched Gold Fund, an open ended fund of fund to enable the common man to invest systematically in gold and take advantage of the current rally. The NFO period is from 22nd August to 5th September.
The fund is designed in such a way, that an investor can invest through a single investment or through systematic investment plan (SIP) as per their convenience. The minimum denomination of investment is kept as Rs100, which is very affordable for a common man.
The corpus collected through the NFO will be invested in SBI GETS, the Gold ETF offering from SBI Mutual.