Dispelling the notion that “Anna Magic’’ has waned, activist Anna Hazare on Sunday began his indefinite fast against corruption at Jantar Mantar here in front to tens of thousands of followers who streamed in wearing “I am Anna” caps.
On Sunday, as he joined other Team Anna members, including Arvind Kejriwal who have been fasting since July 25, crowds swelled at Jantar Mantar where he announced “a fast till we get the Jan Lokpal bill’’ ignoring appeals from his close aides and supporters not to sit on a hunger strike.
However, what remains to be seen is whether what was there at Jantar Mantar on Sunday was just a “Sunday crowd’’. Whether Team Anna would be able to sustain the momentum will be crucial in determining the fate of Lokpal and the anti-corruption movement.
Sunday’s would be the fourth indefinite fast by Hazare since April demanding a corruption-free system through Lokpal. And there was a crowd which was almost like his Ramilia agitation last year which had then forced the government to take the Lokpal Bill a bit more seriously.
Interestingly, Team Anna has been given permission to fast at Jantar Mantar only until August 8, the day Parliament’s monsoon session is expected to begin.
The 74-year-old activist reached Jantar Mantar in the morning accompanied by slogans of bharat mata ki jai, vande mataram and inquilab zindabad.
“My team had told me not to fast citing health reasons. When over 400 people are on fast, I cannot ignore them and not fast. I consider I have your permission,’’ Hazare said addressing the gathering.
His announcement made some of his supporters, who were fasting, go near the dais and appeal to him not to fast again, saying his life is valuable and his leadership is needed.
Hazare then picked up the microphone and said: “Till we get Jan Lokpal, countrymen will not allow me to die.’’ Accusing the government of betrayal, he said it was forcing him to fast again and again. “I will fast until a strong Lokpal Bill is passed in Parliament,’’ he said. Hazare said the anti-corruption movement is to wake the ‘maliks’ up. “The people are the maliks. We have to wake up so that the government cannot do more injustice, cannot steal our money anymore. This can only be achieved if the Jan Lokpal Bill is passed.”