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Anna Hazare all set for Lokpal fast

Mumbai, Dec 26: A smiling 74-year-old Anna Hazare on Monday assured supporters that he was fit enough to launch his fourth hunger strike this year, as he headed off to Mumbai, demanding a strong Lokpal Bill defying critics who labeled the veteran corruption crusader as “impatient”.


About 50,000 people are expected to show up at the MMRDA Grounds in Mumbai where Hazare will launch his three-day hunger strike on Tuesday demanding government action against all-pervasive corruption, as the issue that captured public imagination across India in 2011 prepares to spill over into the new year.

More than 1.25 lakh people have already signed up online for the unprecedented second phase of the Hazare’s latest campaign — a Jail Bharo (Fill The Jails) where volunteers will court arrest in front of lawmakers’ residences — that is scheduled for Jan 1, 2012.

The self-styled Gandhian, who champions the non-violent methods of protest preached by Mahatma Gandhi, hailed in India as Father of the Nation, has announced that he himself will court arrest at the residence of Sonia Gandhi, the chief of India’s ruling Congress party.

The fast by Hazare that is scheduled to begin at 11:00 am, will coincide with the Lok Sabha reconvening in an extended Winter Session of the Parliament to debate and vote on the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill, the government’s draft of which has been widely criticised as weak.

Hazare, who had a fever for the last two days, was declared fit for the hunger strike campaign by his physician on Monday as he left a five-hour ride by road to Mumbai after speaking to a crowd of supporters and journalists.

“The government has become blind and that is why we have to repeatedly fast,” he said, referring to his hunger strike campaigns earlier this year in April and August in New Delhi, each time relenting after being assured by the government that his demands will be met.

“Crores of people did not come on the streets because of Anna, they came because corruption has made their lives difficult,” he said, invoking memories of the large-scale street protest rallies in Indian cities in support of his campaigns.

Even as he slammed the government for being “only interested in helping those with money and power”, the 1965 war veteran, asked people to abstain from violence during the next few days of protest.

Yet Hazare, who dismissed the government’s draft of the Lokpal Bill soon after it was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Nov 22, said that he still believed the Parliament could deliver a stronger legislation through discussion this week.

Meanwhile preparations were in full steam at the 60,000-capacity Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) Grounds in Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla complex, that has been hired at the rate of Rs. 2.6 lakh a day.

Besides 2,000 police constables, 200 sub-inspectors and round-the-clock ambulance services, six platoons of the state reserve police force, three Quick Response Teams and two Bomb Detection and Disposal Squads, have also been deployed at the venue.

A 12-feet stage has been erected for Hazare which has a rest room and an attached washroom adjoining it.

Meanwhile in New Delhi, where Hazare had hosted his earlier hunger strike campaigns, his co-activists Shanti and Prashant Bhushan are expected to lead a fast at the Ramlila Maidan though due to the bitter cold, protesters have been told to only gather from 10 am to 6 pm there. (IBNS)


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Posted by on Dec 27 2011. Filed under Indian News, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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