Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev smiled a lot as they shared stage in Delhi today to announce that they would fast together on June 3 to bring back focus on the Jan Lokpal and the issue of black money. They have applied for permission to hold the fast at Jantar Mantar in Delhi; a venue where Anna has held quite a few protests since last year.
With the anti-graft Lokpal Bill still to see light of day at the Centre, Anna Hazare has changed tack. So his new ultimatum is - bring Lokayukta in Maharashtra. Once a lokayukta law is in place in the state, ruled by the Congress, which also rules at the Centre, Mr Hazare reckons an anti-graft law will be brought at the Centre too.
So beginning May 1, the septuagenarian Gandhian said, "We will visit 35 zillas in Maharashtra....to awaken people against corruption."
Baba Ramdev, meanwhile, will tour other places in the country. The month-long effort, Mr Hazare said, was just the beginning of a crusade. "Post June, we will tour the country together...In the next one and a half years, the more we come together, the more we will be able awaken people by 2014, the next general elections," he said.
The social activist had yesterday advised the Congress-led UPA government to "shed its ego" and get the Jan Lokpal bill passed in the current session of Parliament.
There have been reports of friction between the Anna Hazare camp and Baba Ramdev for some time, but the popular Yoga guru sought to rubbish those, saying the two were very much together, in his words, "till the last breath."
Both slammed the Central government but insisted their efforts were not aimed at felling it but rather at re-awakening the people. "This is related to the people of this country, not any party or group," Mr Hazare said.
He also said that he was in good health and he would ensure that it would not let him down. Anna had to call off his fast at the MMRDA Grounds in Mumbai in December last year due to reported health problems.