New Delhi: Huge crowds gathered through the day at Delhi's Jantar Mantar where anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare sat on an indefinite fast on Sunday. More than 6000 people gathered at the venue where around 400 Team Anna members including Arvind Kejriwal have been on fast since July 26.
Ignoring an appeal from his close aides, Hazare joined three of his team members in their indefinite fast here after his four-day ultimatum to the
government to concede to his demands on Lokpal Bill found no response. "My team had told me not to fast citing health reasons. When over 400 people are on fast, I cannot ignore them and not be on fast. Yesterday also my team appealed to me not to fast but I am sitting on fast from now. I consider I have your permission," Hazare said addressing the gathering at the venue.
Upping his ante against the UPA government, Hazare addressed his supporters and said that 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. This can only be achieved if the Jan Lokpal Bill is passed." He added, "Who is the government? The people, the masses are the government. All the ones we vote for are the 'sewaks'," said Hazare.
Beginning his fast at 10.30 am despite requests from his team members against it, Hazare said he was ready to sacrifice his life for the cause. Crowd presence has been thick at the latest round of protest called in by Team Anna against graft and to demand a probe against the 15 alleged corrupt ministers in the Cabinet. Before he launched his fast, Anna's blood pressure, weight and pulse rate were checked. He said, "We are starting our fast from today and it will continue."
"The government is alleging that we are deviating from our aim but it is the government which is moving away from its path. Our main demand is to get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed. Till all the 15 corrupt ministers are sitting in Parliament, the Lokpal Bill will not be passed," he said.
"I am ready to sacrifice my life for the cause," Hazare added.
The day also saw Team Anna appearing to distance itself from Ramdev who shared dais with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, describing the BJP leader as a "murderer of humanity". Suggesting uneasiness in Team Anna over association with the yoga guru in their anti-corruption agitation, its member Sanjay Singh described Modi as a "murderer of humanity" and said Ramdev has to explain why he shared the dais with the BJP leader.
"We were never in agreement with Modi. We are not in agreement with Modi now also. Narendra Modi is a murderer of humanity. It is for Ramdev to clarify on the issue," said Singh, who was conducting the proceedings at the Hazare fast venue in New Delhi.
Hazare and Ramdev had earlier announced that both their campaigns will support each other and the yoga guru had addressed the Team Anna protest on Friday.
Waving tricolor and shouting slogans, Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan, marched from Jantar Mantar, where Hazare and his close aides were on fast,
to India Gate. "It is a fight to save the country from chaos, from anarchy, from civil war and, therefore, all the people interested in the service of country have come up, have risen up," Bhushan said as he walked with the protesters.
Asked about not so impressive crowds in the past few days, Bhushan said they were not worried about the lack of numbers.
"We know that all the right thinking people in the country which includes a vast majority of people want to save the country from this massive corruption, anarchy and chaos," he said.
Meanwhile, Anna supporters protested in front of Home Minister P Chidambaram's house in Chennai on Sunday morning. Over 100 activists raised slogans demanding a Special Investigation Team to probe corruption charges against 15 ministers including Chidambaram.
The 74-year-old activist had asked the government to concede to his demands on Lokpal Bill by Saturday or else he would go on fast.
His close aide Arvind Kejriwal had on Saturday made a public appeal to Hazare not to fast citing his health.
This is the fourth indefinite fast by Hazare since April last year. The April fast was followed by one in Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi in August and in Mumbai in December.
Hazare had on Saturday attacked the Congress and the BJP, saying 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 the people. He had, however, declared he will not contest elections or form a party.
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