Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare likely to decide exact plan of action today, say people close to activist after his announcement in Ralegansiddhi Gramsabha that he will support and campaign for poll candidates with untainted past.

Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has decided to support the newly formed Pune Nagrik Sanghatana (PNS), which will have at least 40 candidates in the upcoming Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) election. In a Gramsabha (executive meeting of the village panchayat) that was held in Ralegansiddhi on Sunday evening, Hazare formally announced that he would not contest any election but would support and campaign for "clean" candidates.

Showing the way: Anna Hazare at the Ramleela Ground in New Delhi
during his Lokpal fast. file pic

"I have faith in the youth, who have supported me in my hunger strike at Jantar Mantar and Ramleela Grounds in Delhi," said Hazare from his village Ralegansiddhi. Sources close to Hazare's camp said that the social activist might also visit the city for the forthcoming civic body election. "His presence and support for the present Khadakwasala assembly by-election is yet to be confirmed," said Ralegansiddhi Sarpanch Jaisingh Mapari. "He is disturbed because 150 MPs in Parliament have a criminal record."

Three polls ahead
There are three elections scheduled in the next three years. The first is the municipal corporation election, after which there is the state assembly poll, and finally the Lok Sabha election. "He (Hazare) has told his followers to stage an agitation outside the homes of MPs who are not in favour of the Jan Lokpal bill," said Mapari. "Anna has also given directives to his followers that they should not vote for these MPs in the coming elections."

Announcement today
Sanjay Pathade, a schoolteacher close to Hazare, said the activist would declare his exact plans today.
"Anna is willing to support the NGOs that are contesting the election to eradicate corruption in politics. His associate Arvind Kejriwal is in Ralegansiddhi and Anna may declare his exact stand tomorrow (Tuesday)," said Pathade yesterday.

Anna refuses Mahatma title
VillagersĀ of Ralegansiddhi in a Gramsabha on Sunday unanimously decided to give Anna Hazare the title of Mahatma. Ganesh Bhosale, a villager, said all countrymen called Hazare a "second Gandhi" and wherever he goes people have voiced slogans like "Anna Hazare aandhi hain, desh ke dusare Gandhi hain (Hazare is a storm and a second Gandhi of our nation)" that attest to the popular mood. It was also learnt that Hazare modestly refused the honour of being called Mahatma. "There was only one Mahatma and he was Gandhiji. I am really a very small person before Gandhiji and just an ordinary fighter against corrupt practices in our country," Hazare said before the villagers.