The second day of the indefinite fast called by India Against Corruption (IAC) in demand of the tabling of its version of theJan Lokpal Bill during the Parliament’s monsoon session, witnessed a low turnout on Thursday. However, it did not seem to affect the morale of the movement’s supporters who expressed confidence that the crowd will swell in the coming days .
The IAC supporters at the Jantar Mantar, who looked colourless and subdued for much of the day, came alive in the latter part of the afternoon after Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal, who had to leave for Bulandshahr in UP for a court hearing, returned and delivered a speech in defence of his earlier tirade against parliamentarians.
While the movement’s earlier phases saw the presence of members of social organisations from across the country, besides Baba Ramdev’s supporters, Thursday saw mainly a few outfits of workers, farmers and ex-servicemen in attendance. The IAC claimed that over 400 people were fasting in different parts of the country, 32 of them women, along with Mr. Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai.
Following Mr. Kejriwal’s speech, in which he reiterated that it was not him but political parties which gave election tickets to persons with criminal antecedents that had insulted Parliament, advocate Prashant Bhushan undertook a name-and-shame approach in which he listed the allegations against several prominent politicians including Union Cabinet Ministers and Opposition leaders.
Political commentator Yogendra Yadav explained his understanding of the IAC’s movement to the assembled audience, winning him appreciation from the crowd and the others on the dais. “This andolan is not just about the Jan Lokpal Bill. When a woman watching TV in a faraway village remarks that ‘these people are doing something good for the country’ it is an indication that people who felt helpless against politicians feel they can do something for the country,” Dr. Yadav said.
“It is about sadachar”
“This is not just about bhrashtachar [corruption]. It is about sadachar [morals] and all the accusations that Prashant Bhushan listed about our politicians speak about the need for leaders with high morals,” Dr. Yadav said, adding that though he regarded the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an honest man, he questioned that honesty on seeing corrupt men around the Prime Minister. “I ask myself, what do I do with his honesty?” Dr. Yadav said.
Speaking about the Anna Hazare-centric nature of the movement, Dr. Yadav said: “This andolan is not about Anna Hazare. In every city, kasba [town], and village this movement has kick started a process by which every person is trying to find an Anna Hazare in him or her.” He also asked Team Anna to shed their disdain for politics and politicians and try to identify “alternative” politics that can be pursued.
However, former IPS officer Kiran Bedi disagreed with Dr. Yadav’s contention about Dr. Singh, pointing out that the Prevention of Corruption Act defined corruption as not just taking bribes but also causing “wrongful loss.” She alluded to the Prime Minister’s failure to act against corruption allegations against his party colleagues. Pointing out that the present Bill tabled in the Parliament did not make the CBI independent of the government, Ms. Bedi asked the Prime Minister to instead table the Jan Lokpal Bill during the monsoon session.