Arvind Kejriwal's fast enters Day 11, undeterred by thin audience

Arvind Kejriwal's fast enters Day 11, undeterred by thin audience

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New Delhi:  For 11 days, Arvind Kejriwal has survived only on water in nearly 38-degree heat in Delhi.

The founder of the Aam Aadmi Party has lost seven kilos, according to doctors, since he began his hunger strike to protest against what he describes as the government's complicity with private firms to over-charge Delhi residents for water and power.

At the venue of his fast in East Delhi, Mr Kejriwal can be seen once a day on a stage at a lane which can accommodate nearly 200 people but has been under-populated. Today, at noon, there were about 50 people.

Around the lane, posters of Mahatma Gandhi take pride of place.

Doctors appointed by the Aam Aadmi Party check on Mr Kejriwal, who is 44 years old, twice a day. "I will not like to call it a miracle but it certainly is amazing that he has gone on for so long," says Dr Vipin Mittal.

Manish Sisodia, a core member of the Aam Aadmi Party, says, "Arvind feels that he needs more support from the people of Delhi. Of course the fast will end... but as of now Arvind has told me he is good for at least another 10 days."  Sources close to Mr Kejriwal say he wants at least 25 lakh signatures collected before he calls off the fast.

Over the weekend, Mr Kejriwal's one-time mentor, activist Anna Hazare, visited him and urged him to end his fast. In August 2012, Anna, then 75, fasted for 16 days in Delhi with Mr Kejriwal by his side to demand the introduction of a tough new anti-corruption law.  Thousands visited his protest camp every day. Anna ended his fast when parliament agreed to urgently debate the Lokpal Bill, which creates a new national ombudsman to prosecute government servants accused of graft. Two years later, the bill has still not been cleared by law-makers.

Dr Ashawant Gupta has come from Ludhiana to support Mr Kejriwal. "It's not for me to say whether Kejriwal s way is right or wrong. I am here because there is the option of sitting at home or there is the option of coming out and supporting him."

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