MUMBAI: “Anna has asked us to call of the fast, not the agitation, we will disperse but only so that he gets healthy, Team members can decide a stronger course of action. We will join him whenever we are informed,” Harchand Chera, taxi driver from Worli who was one of the 100 volunteers fasting with Mr Anna Hazare at the MMRDA ground. As he packed his bag Mr Chera said he could fast for as many days as Anna ji said.
From blaming the venue to Anna’s health issues, volunteers and supporters preferred citing any reason as an excuse in a bid to hold on to their faith in Anna Hazare. “Had he been healthy he would have fasted for as long as it took for the government to buckle… the venue if far from the city center but we will go wherever Anna goes. We are not fans cheering a movie or cricket celebrity. Anna ji is our role model and leader and we have been fasting with him since the first agitation against corruption,” 22 year old writer from Navi Mumbai said. Amidst concerns over their leader’s health, volunteers waited for their leader to break their fast before them, “We have heard the announcement but how can a 22 year old accept food when that 74 year old unwell man has not?” he asked.
Most Dedicated supporters lacked know how of the details of the bills or any specific differences in the governments and team Anna’s bill drafts but insisted that supporting Anna was the only solution to fighting corruption. “We have no hope in the politicians, they all claim that they come from humble backgrounds but within few years they become rich. How will they frame a bill that has the power to put them in jail? That why we support Anna ji, he has no possessions and no desire to make money or grab power,” 82- year old Jamna Prashad Sharma said. “I may look frail and old but I would rather die while on protest against corruption,” he added.
Youngest fasting volunteer, 13 year old Pratik Vankedhe said he was motivated to act when he saw that poor students of his school were punished because they could not pay fee. “I wanted the world to know how unfair the education system is, the poor are harassed for being poor,” he said. “He insisted on fasting, we tried on convince him not to but he idolises Anna ji,” Pratik’s father Ramesh Vankedhe said.
Standing out in the gathering were over a dozen supporters dressed in formals who took time from their offices to mark their presence at the venue, “My office is nearby and I was following the movement. I could not fast but I decided to come and witness the agitation.” Despite disappointed by the sudden U-turn the crowd roared each time Anna spoke frailly from the dais. Meanwhile villagers from Anna Hazare’s native village Ralegan Siddhi came to the venue to join their leader in his protest against the weak Lokpal bill said they were disappointed with the government for not listening to Anna. “Specifics don’t matter, when lakhs of people are asking the government to change the bill then it should be changed! Otherwise we will be sure that the government is corrupt and unwilling to change,” 35 year old Anna supporter said. (Eom)