Team had originally booked MMRDA grounds; learning that Anna has shifted location to Azad Maidan, it has now booked a spot there
While the mood in the Anna Hazare camp is upbeat as it arms itself for a mighty battle with the Congress-led government over the Jan Lokpal Bill, there is another group which is working equally hard to render the former's agitation unsuccessful.
Yoga is the secret of my energy! Social crusader Anna Hazare practising
pranayama. Pic/Vijay Bate
Munna Tripathi, Congressman and founder of the Uttar Bhartiya Vikas Parishad, is keeping a keen eye on the decisions made by Team Anna, as he plans to follow them and stage a simultaneous fast in an adjacent spot, no matter where they go - the MMRDA grounds or the Azad Maidan.
Tripathi had initially filed a request for a 10,000 sq ft plot of land on the MMRDA grounds, with the aim of holding a fast simultaneously with Anna's protest. Learning that Team Anna has now abandoned the MMRDA grounds for Azad Maidan, Tripathi too has sought permission to go on a fast there.
"Yes, it's true that a few of my men and I wanted to book the entire ground. But the charges were way beyond our budget, at Rs 60 lakh. Hence we dropped the idea. However, we'll be fasting wherever Anna Hazare decides to fast," stated Tripathi.
Tripathi is one of those Congress members who have decided to take on Anna, and pay him back for his attacks on party Chief Sonia Gandhi and General Secretary Rahul Gandhi. "If the party is ready to bring in a strong Lokpal bill, then why protest and blackmail the government unnecessarily?" added Tripathi.
While India Against Corruption (IAC) has now decided to shift the fast to Azad Maidan, MMRDA has decided not to cancel the booking made by IAC for use of the MMRDA ground, at least till December 25.
"Generally, we do not make such considerations, but keeping in mind the nature of the cause, we decided not to cancel the booking, till we receive the money from them, or any official notification. According to their letter, they wanted the grounds from December 26, so we have given them time till December 25," said Anil Wankhede, deputy metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA.
Change of venue
"Annaji didn't want money to be spent on renting the grounds. He even refused sponsorships. Hence, we decided on Azad Maidan, and this is final," said an IAC volunteer.
>> 48,000 sq m: The area of the MMRDA grounds
>> Rs 10.80 per sq m: The rental charges for use of the grounds