“This is not the age to fast. He should spread his message through dialogue”

The celebrations are on at the main village square. But inside Anna Hazare's brother's home here the mood is sombre.

On Friday afternoon, the news that he has he has left the Tihar Jail for the Ramlila Grounds in Delhi reaches Mr. Hazare's family, all huddled in front of the television set.

“He hasn't eaten for four days. The government should agree to his demands at least now. This is not the age to fast. He should spread his message through dialogue,” Mr. Hazare's sister-in-law Kantabai tells The Hindu. The pride that the family feels for him as the television anchor says that “he is now ready to lead the nation in its second struggle of independence” does not hide the anxiety. “He has always been adamant. Once he takes up an issue, he will always fight for it till the end. Our mother used to fast with him in the earlier days, but even then he wouldn't give up,” says his brother Maruti Hazare.

“I was in Delhi for the last three days, but I hardly got to see him. We haven't spoken to him on the phone since the last two weeks,” says Anna's nephew Ganesh.

Kantabai says the family has not cooked for the past two days. “We don't have any option but to watch. But he is doing this for the country. I am sure the fight will be successful,” says Ganesh.

Procession of deity

Outside the Yadavbaba temple, which Mr. Anna Hazare has made his home, and at the main square, the stage is set for the celebration of ‘freedom from corruption.' Slogans in support of Anna are a constant throughout the day.

The focus of Ralegan Siddhi residents is on the happenings in Delhi. In the morning, the locals participate in the procession of the village deity, Yadavbaba. “Anna worships Him, and so do we. This will give him energy to go on,” says Shanta Gaikwad.

People from various villages come to Ralegan Siddhi to show solidarity.

S.T. Padhir, who came from Hiwre Bazaar, a village in Ahmednagar district that has emulated the principles of rural development for which Ralegan Siddhi stands for, says: “Our village has benefited from Anna's ideals. So we had to come here in support.” Later in the day, the villagers take out a candlelight march.