Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Tuesday began an indefinite fast for the passage of the lokpal bill, declaring that this time he would fight till the bill is passed and not fooled by mere promises.
“In August 2012, I ended my fast at Ramlila Grounds because the Prime Minister assured me the bill will be passed. The government has cheated 120 crore people of this country,” he told a crowd of about 1000 people in Ralegan Siddhi, 80 km from Pune.
Mr. Hazare said the movement now needed people who were ready to work sincerely. “We don’t need big crowds.”
Embittered by the government’s inaction to pass the lokpal bill after his 13-day fast in New Delhi in August 2012, Mr. Hazare has moved his agitation to his village in Ahmednagar district. “This is the time for a new andolan. People will see how it spreads to the rest of the country from a small village. The gallis [lanes] needs to change first, only then Dilli will change,” he said.
The Congress is trying to convince Mr. Hazare to end his fast. Maharashtra Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat met Mr. Hazare on Tuesday evening. “I have come with a message from Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavhan for Anna to end his fast. We will ensure the lokpal bill is passed,” Mr Thorat told reporters. However, Mr. Hazare refused to step back.
Mr. Hazare said the Congress needed to get the bill passed if it wanted to survive the 2014 general election. “It is important for the Congress to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill now. People have a chance to express their anger every five years, and the Congress has seen what people can do,” he observed, referring to the party’s debacle in the recent elections in four States. “These elections were a trailer,” he warned.