Buoyed by weekend crowds that thronged Jantar Mantar on Saturday, Arvind Kejriwal, on the fourth day of his indefinite fast, made a fervent plea to Anna Hazare to make a call to the nation to prepare for a Sampoorna Kranti (total revolution). Earlier in the day, Mr. Hazare, reiterated his plan to commence his fast from Sunday, after the four-day ultimatum he had issued to the government did not elicit any response.
However, Mr. Kejriwal in his address appealed to Mr. Hazare to withdraw his plan to fast as he was yet to recover from ill-health that has dogged him for much of this year.
“We lost Gandhiji immediately after Independence. We lost Jayaprakash Narayan at the wrong time. I will continue my fast. Even if I die, there will be 1,000 Arvind Kejriwals to take my place. I pray to Anna not to undertake this fast. His health is not good. But I leave it to him to make the final decision,” said Mr. Kejriwal, who emphasised that he was “perfectly healthy” and had defied the predictions of his doctors who warned him not to fast owing to his diabetic condition.
Noting that every party at the national and State level was facing corruption allegations, Mr. Kejriwal said: “Our farmers’ lands are being seized and they are committing suicides in large numbers. A large percentage of our population does not have access to education. There is a need for universal health coverage. Our movement for the Jan Lokpal Bill should become a cry for Sampoorna Kranti.” He also disagreed with those who said that President Pranab Mukherjee should not be accused of corruption.
Asked why he was undertaking frequent fasts, Mr. Hazare said he was forced to do so because the government had gone back on its promises regarding the Lokpal Bill at the drafting committee and standing committee stages and then again in Parliament. “It is the government’s actions which are forcing us to fast again and again. We are not happy doing so,” he said.
Regarding the question of working for a political alternative, Mr. Hazare signalled his intention to tour the country and seek out good people to contest elections. Their details, he said, would be posted on the Internet to elicit people’s opinion about them. However, he would not contest elections or form a party, he added.
Pointing to the larger Saturday crowd in attendance, Mr. Kejriwal gestured at the media: “The crowds are here. But this struggle is about truth and sacrifice and it does not need crowds. Even if none of the people who are now here come back, we will continue our fast. Everyone here has come on their own free will. No one brought them here in trucks. I challenge Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to bring at least half of this crowd without arranging trucks and buses for people.”
He also criticised the media for not highlighting the “flop shows” of rallies called by political parties and attempts to make Anna “a flop” saying the media lacked courage.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan listed the “corruption allegations” against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee, and Home Minister P. Chidambaram.