Lokpal activist Anna Hazare on Sunday vowed to continue his anti-corruption crusade, and if need be hold street protests and fill jails, till the government heeds the will of the people for a strong Lokpal law.
Addressing a huge gathering at Jantar Mantar, Hazare threatened to intensify the stir by courting arrest if the government fails to pass a law in parliament's winter session for a strong Lokpal that covers the bureaucracy and the prime minister.
"The government should listen to the voice of the people. Agitation will continue for a strong Lokpal," said Hazare, flanked by leaders of various political parties.
Hazare has called upon the opposition to join the fight.
"If government hesitates in passing a strong Lokpal Bill or rejects your suggestions and if you (opposition) fall short of numbers, we can do one thing. The people are here with us."
"You can join us with all your parties and partymen and come to the streets for a larger campaign. Let us see how the government does not do it."
Thousands were present at Jantar Mantar for the rally.
As the crowd swelled by the hour, India Against Corruption activists tried to control the deluge by erecting temporary barriers but to no avail.
Around 1,000 police and paramilitary personnel were deployed at the venue.
Errors and a snub
Arvind Kejriwal, however, had to make do without some fans.
The Team Anna activist reportedly made a number of factual errors in his speech whille accusing political parties of misusing the CBI under successive governments.
He said in 1996, the then Vajpayee government used the CBI to target AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa, when actually the government was only there for 13 days.
While attacking Kapil Sibal for alleged attempts to restrict social media freedoms, Kejriwal criticised the Telecom Minister for limiting the number of SMSes to 200 per mobile as also his efforts to regulate content on social networking sites.
"He has also tried to regulate Facebook and other sites which were of help to us. These things will not help the government.
We want to show to them how many people came no matter any restrictions," Kejriwal said, adding Sibal did so to control Hazare's movement.
The cap SMSes to 200 per SIM was actually a move by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to deter unsolicited messages by telemarketing companies.
He also said that as many as 17 members of Parliamentary Standing Committee had opposed the report prepared by it, when factually the dissenting members had not opposed the report in toto, only objected to different clauses.
Key opposition leaders even snapped at Kejriwal after he pressed them to make public their opinion on the Lokpal Bill asking him to leave the matter to Parliament for a decision.
Kejriwal had requested them to clear their position on specific issues relating to Lokpal like composition of selection committee, appointment of CBI director and grievance redressal mechanism for complaints against group C employees. As
Kejriwal was speaking, CPI leader D. Raja took the microphone and asked him to leave the detailed discussions on the Lokpal Bill to Parliament.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley said all the leaders have already discussed the fundamental issues and agreed to most of the key demands of Team Anna.
"We have already discussed the fundamental issues pertaining to Lokpal. We gave our opinion on most of the sticking issues. We all agreed that there should be a strong and effective Lokpal and we will do our best to make it happen. But details on specific issues should be left to Parliament for discussion," said Jaitley.
'Anna insulting Parliament'
The Congress has, meanwhile, accused Hazare of insulting Parliament with his campaign at Jantar Mantar and said it was nothing but coming together of detractors of the party and the government.
"Whatever has happened at Jantar Mantar is premature and they should have waited for the final shape of Lokpal Bill which would be passed by Parliament," party spokesman Rashid Alvi said.
"Laws cannot be made at Jantar Mantar. I have no hesitation in saying that Annaji is insulting Parliament," Alvi said
He also accused Hazare of indulging in politics by attacking Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
"It is the Constitutional right of Annaji to sit on protest, but the manner in which he is trying to target Rahulji and Soniaji makes it clear that he only wants to indulge in politics," he said.