Hectic negotiations were on tonight to break the logjam in Tihar jail from where Anna Hazare has refused to come out despite government climbing down on issues like the venue and period of protest over which it had earlier put stiff conditions.
There were reports that agreement was reached between the two sides on the venue where Hazare could hold his indefinite fast shifted from JP Park to more spacious Ramlila maidan but by evening the negotiations were said to be stuck on the number of days he would be allowed to stage his protest.
Senior Delhi Police officials were in discussions with team Anna Hazare in Tihar jail till late in the evening and the civil society activists were said to be insisting on being allowed to stage his fast for a stronger Lokpal for a longer period than the seven days that Police was inclined to allow him.Highly placed sources said all members of the Hazare team were agreeable to the seven days limit with a rider that the situation could be reviewed everyday thereafter but one activist- Arvind Kejriwal was not agreeable to it.
Another close associate of Hazare, Kiran Bedi, admitted as much when she told crowds outside the Tihar jail that negotiations were still on and Hazare was unlikely to come out anytime soon.
Through Delhi Police, the government is understood to have conveyed to Hazare’s team that Police would no longer insist on restrictions on the number of people which could attend the fast and movement of people.
Hazare continued his fast for the second consecutive day as the government was caught in a cleft as to how to deal with the embarrassing stand-off.
He spent the night in the administrative block of the jail along with his associate Arvind Kejriwal.
Hundreds of people continued their vigil outside the jail premises as Hazare made it clear that he would come out of the prison only if he is given permission to stage the indefinite fast.
Hazare’s aide Manish Sisodia, who came out of the jail last night, said though the Gandhian was given bail he did not agree to the terms and conditions imposed by authorities.
To a specific question, Sisodia said Anna has told the jail authorities that he will not leave the premises until the police tell him the status of his application for launching a hunger strike at the JP Park.
“He told them very clearly that he wants to sit and fast there with his followers. So this is the status and we are fasting here outside Tihar jail,” he said.
On reports that yoga guru Ramdev will also join the protest, he said, “I have no official confirmation but whoever wants to join they are welcome.”
When Hazare’s supporters shouted slogans against HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, Sisodia said the Gandhian has given “strict instructions” not to raise any slogans against any person or party.