Amidst talks of his movement losing its steam, Anna Hazare, ignoring appeals from his aides and doctors, began his indefinite fast on Sunday in his demand for the Lokpal Bill. And the 75-year old activist was greeted by a much larger crowd than what has been witnessed in the past four days. Around six to eight thousand people turned up at Jantar Mantar yesterday. Only a few hundreds were seen at the venue since July 25 when other members of Team Anna including key aide Arvind Kejriwal began their hunger strike.
"Till the Lokpal Bill is not passed, the people of this country will not let me die," Anna said today drawing a huge roar from the crowd.
Before beginning his hunger strike, Anna justified the protest by his supporters outside the Prime Minister's residence on Saturday, saying it was an angry reaction.
"People are fed up and angry as they have been suffering for so long. We should think before taking any such step as it involves the country's Prime Minister," he said. (Read)
Earlier, the 75 year-old had told NDTV that the dwindling numbers do not disappoint him and he can continue his protest fast even with the support of five people. (Watch)
However, despite the moderate response, Mr Kejriwal had appealed to Anna not to join him in the fast.
health is not well. We lost Mahatma Gandhi at a wrong time. We lost
Jaiprakash Narayan early and we cannot afford to lose Anna now. So I
request Anna not to fast," he said.
Meanwhile, differences between Anna and his team became evident with a public disagreement over Pranab Mukherjee. While Anna said that Mr Mukherjee should not be attacked as he is the President now; Mr Kejriwal differed in his opinion.
"The person sitting in that position cannot be looked at as Pranab Mukherjee. He's the President. It is every citizen's duty to respect the President," Anna said. However, Mr Kejriwal said, "It's being said that because Pranab Mukherjee is now the President of the nation, so his corruption shouldn't be talked about. I disagree with that."
The contradictions remain even on the issue of cabinet ministers. While Anna said he was willing to put the allegations against ministers aside for now if the government delivered on the Lokpal, the cabinet ministers remained a focus for the team on the Jantar Mantar stage. "How will the education system improve if the education minister (Kapil Sibal) will be so busy making money? We need an honest selection of good teachers...How will that happen?" asked Mr Kejriwal.
Following Anna's remark on union ministers, his supporter Kabir Bedi asked on Twitter, "Anna Saheb should CLEARLY STATE OBJECTIVE of his FAST: JLP passage OR prosecution of PM and Ministers. Many don't support both." (sic
On Saturday, setting the tone for his fast, 75-year-old Anna attacked the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying that the country's future does not lie safe in their hands and talked about the need for a political alternative in the 2014 elections, during which he will campaign for those with clean background selected by people.
However, he declared he will not contest the elections or form a party.
He also accused the government of cheating the people repeatedly on Lokpal and said he was forced to fast again and again, which is "not a happy thing".
"I will fight for Jan Lokpal till I die", he said. Anna's four-day ultimatum to government on a decision on his demands ended on Saturday.
While Anna took a dig at parties saying even during election rallies major portions of venues remain empty, his aide targeted the media alleging they do not have the courage to highlight "flop shows" of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
"People say Anna has flopped. There is a design to make Anna flop. Corrupt people are hoping that Anna flops. If Anna flops, the country will flop," he said while Anna said, "the colour of your spectacle determines the colour you see."