Pune/Bhopal: Criticising Digvijay Singh for crackdown remark, Gandhian leader Anna Hazare on Thursday said he was not afraid of death and dared the government to fire bullets in the event of his going on fast to press for a strong Lokpal bill.

"Anna is not afraid of death. They can fire bullets and not just use lathis to repress our agitation and the people of this country will decide whether India has a democratic rule or a dictatorship," Hazare told reporters.

The anti-corruption crusader said this in Pune when asked to comment on Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh's remarks on his plans to go on a fast from August 16.

Digvijay Singh however denied saying that the social activist would be given a treatment similar to yoga guru Ramdev if he goes on fast unto death.

"I am surprised and pained at reports in today's newspapers which quoted me as saying that the treatment given to Ramdev would also be meted out to Anna Hazare," the Congress General Secretary said.

Singh maintained that during his interaction with reporters on Wednesday in Jabalpur what he said was that the Congress had nothing to do with the manner in which either Hazare or Ramdev will be treated.

He said Congress had nothing to do with how the two were treated as it is always decided by the local administration after assessing the prevailing situation at that moment.

The outspoken leader maintained that if there was a need for holding a fast, the younger activists of civil society like Arvind Kejriwal or Prashant Bhushan should do it instead of Hazare.

Hazare, who was on his way to his native village Ralegaon in Ahmednagar district, also wondered whether the present Congress party was the same that had links with Mahatma Gandhi and leaders like Kamraj.

Asserting that to protest is the democratic right of every citizen, Hazare said, "Congress seems determined to crush our agitation for a strong Lokpal. But it should be remembered now that it is not just Anna Hazare but the entire country that is supporting this agitation and the people will teach them a lesson".

CWC to discuss Lokpal issue

With the Lokpal issue generating much heat, the Congress Working Committee meeting here on Friday is expected to take a tough line on the "so- called representatives" of the Civil Society, a party euphemism for Team Anna Hazare.

This will be the first formal meeting of the apex policy making body to take stock of the political situation after the CWC was reconstituted in March.

Deliberations of the Congress top brass' comes ahead of the all-party meeting being convened on the Lokpal bill issue on July 3 and the Monsoon session of Parliament
beginning from August 1, which by all indications is expected to be a tumultuous affair.

The issue of bringing the Prime Minister under the ambit of the Lokpal has become a ticklish issue. The draft bill of the Government which opposes the inclusion of Prime Minister, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament, contrary to the stand of Team Anna.

The CWC has met twice earlier after reconstitution by party chief Sonia Gandhi but those were meetings to condole the deaths of party veteran Arjun Singh and Arunachal Chief Minister Khandu Dorjee respectively.

The meeting comes at a time when the party is under attack from a belligerent Opposition and sections of Civil Society over corruption and has launched a countrywide public campaign to "expose" what it calls their "grand design to usurp power through undemocratic means".

The AICC has dubbed Anna Hazare as also Ramdev as "masks" of the RSS-BJP.

JPN/Agencies