Anna gives up fast, but not fight

“We’ll continue our fight against corruption with voters’ awareness programme’

With serious concerns rising over his health, 74-year-old Anna Hazare on Wednesday cut short his three-day hunger strike for an effective Lok Pal Bill, and also deferred a jail bharo campaign and gherao of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s residence.

“We will continue our fight against corruption with a voters’ awareness programme,” the social activist said after he abruptly called off the fast on its second day here.

“We need to change our strategy to fight corruption…we will tirelessly campaign against the people who have opposed a strong Lokpal Bill. Both during the coming Assembly elections and in the Lok Sabha elections two years down the line.”

Mr. Hazare who accepted juice from Pratidnya Patangare, a small girl from his village Ralegan Siddhi, appealed to the public to continue their support for the agitation, “In the last five months, the United Progressive Alliance government betrayed us … Considering the developments of the last few days and the way the government has presented us with a toothless tool for fighting corruption, I am convinced that they have no intentions of ever drafting a Bill that stops corruption.”

Mr. Hazare was suffering from a viral infection and even though his temperature dropped from 102 to 100 degree F, doctors strongly discouraged him from fasting anymore. He, however, continued with his protest until the surprise announcement midway through his fast on the MMRDA ground, which saw a slight increase in turnout on Wednesday evening after a lull in the public participation on day one.

Mr. Hazare, who addressed the media after ending his fast, accused Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram of having hatched a plan during his agitation in Delhi in August, to get him out of the prison and forcibly fly him to Pune — similar to the treatment meted out to yoga guru Baba Ramdev.

“The government first arrested me on grounds that the agitation will lead to violence and then released me within hours but their game plan failed since I saw through it.”

Mr. Hazare admitted that he had no reasons to oppose any party other than the UPA, “Congress has cheated us the maximum,” he said.


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