New Delhi: Accusing the Central government of cheating Civil Society activists, Gandhian Anna Hazare on Thursday vowed to fast in the national capital again from August 16 in support of a strong Lokpal Bill to fight corruption.

“I stopped my fast at Jantar Mantar because the government said our demands will be met,” a peeved Hazare told a news conference here, one day after his talks with the government collapsed.

“Now that the government is turning its back on the promise, I will fast again from Aug 16,” he said referring to the day after India's Independence Day.

After Hazare's April 5-9 hunger strike, which ignited widespread public support across India, the government set up a 10-member panel to draft an effective Lokpal bill to curb corruption in high places.

The team had five senior cabinet ministers as well as Hazare and four others from the Civil Society -- Santosh Hegde, Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Shanti Bhushan.

On Wednesday, the two sides failed to resolve their many differences, and the government said it would put up its own draft of the proposed Lokpal Bill and that of the Civil Society before the cabinet.

“Suddenly they have changed their position,” Hazare said. “If the two drafts were to be sent, then why did they form the joint committee? They could have this earlier.”
“What was the point of wasting so much time? It is clear the government is interested in eradicating corruption.”

He said the government had gone back on all their promises one by one. “When I went on hunger strike (in April), they said we will go by whatever you say.”

“I called off my fast on the government's promise. Since the government is not sincere, I will start my fast from Aug 16. Even if I have to die, it does not matter.”

Kejriwal said it was clear from the various meetings between the ministers and Civil Society representatives that that government was not serious either about the Lokpal Bill or fighting corruption.

“The government has frittered away a huge opportunity to provide a good legislation to the country. This was all a drama. The government's Lokpal Bill is not a Lokpal Bill, it is a jokepal bill,” he added.

Bill to be drafted by June 30

Even as the Civil Society members of the Lokpal Bill joint drafting committee called the meetings a 'drama', Home Minister P Chidambaram said the proposed legislation  will be drafted by the deadline of June 30.

"On behalf of the government we want to reiterate what we have been saying: it is our intention to draft a strong and sound Lokpal bill, and we will complete it by June 30," Chidambaram said at a press conference.

Differences emerged between the two sides in the seventh meeting of the committee Wednesday with the Civil Society members alleging that the government was attempting to 'bulldoze' its version of the bill.

Inclusion of the Prime Minister and judiciary within the ambit of the proposed Lokpal are among the points of main differences between the two sides.