In Parliament, Singh accused Hazare of trying to circumvent democracy by demanding that lawmakers pass legislation on his terms. “The question before the nation is who drafts the law and who makes the law,” he said. “We will not allow anyone to question the sole prerogative of Parliament to make the law.”
Reading from a prepared statement, Singh used combative words, but he spoke in an almost unintelligible monotone, drawing jeers from opposition benches.
Police imposed strict conditions Tuesday on Hazare’s right to protest, stipulating that his planned fast last no more than three days and that no more than 5,000 people attend.
When Hazare refused those conditions, he was arrested and sent to Tihar Jail, the same prison that holds high-ranking officials and businessmen accused of corruption.
On Tuesday evening, the government made an about-face and ordered Hazare’s release, but the activist refused to leave Tihar Jail without assurances that he could continue his fast in central Delhi. On Wednesday, the police offered him an alternative venue but again tried to limit the duration of the fast. Hazare again refused.
Early Thursday, there were reports that a compromise might have been reached. Reuters reported that an aide to Hazare announced in a series of Twitter posts that Hazare had accepted a police offer to fast in a New Delhi park for 15 days.
Hazare has employed tactics throughout the ordeal straight from Mohandas K. Gandhi’s struggle against British colonial rule.
By arresting Hazare and detaining thousands of his supporters Tuesday, hours before he was to begin his fast, the government appears to have played into Hazare’s hands and further galvanized the popular movement against corruption.
“Corrupt, repressive and stupid,” was the verdict of the Hindu, a respected newspaper. “Anna arrest has the government fumbling,” proclaimed the Mail Today newspaper.
Protests — including candlelight vigils and the burning in effigy of government figures — have gathered pace across the country. There were also one-day strikes in some cities by protesters ranging from auto-rickshaw drivers to lawyers, and thousands of people gathered late Wednesday around India Gate, the capital’s landmark monument and central square.
Outside the high-security Tihar Jail, thousands of protesters have demonstrated since Tuesday evening, carrying placards saying, “The corrupt are selling the nation,” and, “Right to Protest.” They chanted slogans such as “Down with Corruption” and “We are with you, Anna.”Among the protesters outside the jail were farmers, tradesmen, retired army officers, government employees, teachers and even schoolchildren in uniform.