Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare began his indefinite hunger strike against corruption yesterday, saying he won’t end his protest till the government bowed to his demand for a stringent Jan Lokpal Bill.
In contrast to the first few days, there was a surge of crowds at the protest venue at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital. The indefinite fast by Hazare is his third such fast in over a year.
Also on fast since Wednesday at the spot are some 350 others including three key Anna aides — Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, and Gopal Rai.
Addressing the crowd, Hazare said, “I am ready to sacrifice my life for the cause. I am confident that people will not let me die till Jan Lokpal Bill is passed.” The crowd, which kept increasing through the day, saw around a thousand supporters join the venue after marching from India Gate to Jantar Mantar.
Hazare, whose 12-day long-fast in August last year had forced the government to get working on a Lokpal Bill to set up an ombudsman, said people had forgotten the meaning of the word ‘swaraj’.
“They are servants and we people are the owners; but the picture today is that people have become the servant and the politicians are the owner,” he thundered to loud cheers. “This movement is to awaken the people,” Hazare said.
He also touched on yoga guru Baba Ramdev sharing the dais with Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, saying, “I do not want to be dragged into this muddy debate”, and then warned, “Don’t try to divide us”.
Congress’s Digvijay Singh said, “Other Team Anna members failed to gather support so now Anna has stepped in.” Meanwhile, 15 hunger strikers had to be taken to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital after their condition deteriorated, a Team Anna member said.
Anna flays supporters
Anna Hazare pulled up his supporters for staging a noisy, unannounced protest outside Manmohan Singh’s residence. While saying that the protest showed that people were angry with the government, he told his supporters, “We should think before taking any such step as it involves the country’s prime minister.”
In another incident, cops arrested Anna supporters for protesting outside P Chidambaram’s house in Chennai. Chidambaram is one of 15 ministers in the government that Team Anna says are corrupt. An IAC volunteer, said that this was the reason the protest was held at Chidambaram’s residence.