BeyondHeadlines Staff Reporter
New Delhi: Fasting social activist Anna Hazare, on the eighth day of his indefinite hunger strike, asked his supporters to picket the houses of their elected representatives around the country.
Hazare, who spoke for the first time since Sunday, sought to allay fears about his failing health and asked his supporters to hold elected representatives to ‘the task for which they were sent to Parliament’. As if on cue, protests unfolded outside the houses of politicians across the country.
“Sixty-four years ago, we became owners (malik) of this country. We have sent these legislators to Parliament to work for us. They have many tasks. One is to plan for development and oversee how the country’s funds are utilized. The second, and the main task, is to make good laws in the land. Since they are failing to make good laws, you go and ask them why,” Hazare said.
The 74-year-old activist, who appeared on stage on Tuesday without the trademark Gandhi cap, said civil society protests would intensify if the government did not pass the Jan Lokpal Bill by his 30 August deadline. “Whether or not Anna is there, protests will continue,” he said.
Hazare’s supporters heeded his call immediately and protests took place outside the residences of a number of leaders, including the rented house of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Guwahati. Protesters gathered outside the houses of such leaders as BJP’s LK Advani, Maharashtra Congress chief Manikrao Thakre, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Law Minister Salman Khurshid and several others.
Anna’s supporters staged a protest against suspended Congress MP and accused in the Commonwealth Games scams, Suresh Kalmadi, outside his house. Even as crowds dwindled at the Ramlila Maidan due to pouring rains and working day, Anna supporters continued to protest even as they went about their lives, shouting slogans in buses and at traffic junctions.
Anna also deployed strong political rhetoric in a scathing attack on the government and its managers, using terms such as ‘traitors’ and ‘betrayal’ that find deep resonance in India’s political context.
“I feel there are only 5-6 people in the government who are running the country and if such people, who do not have a social or national perspective, run the nation, then what will happen to this country…This is something to worry about,” Hazare said.
“Even if Lokpal comes and if such traitors run the country, what will happen. This is the question which is bothering me,” the 73-year-old activist said. He said he was watching for the past four months after the government set up the Joint Committee for drafting Lokpal bill.
“Even there some people in the government were traitors, they tried to betray us,” he said. Hazare took on allegations that caste divides existed in his village Ralegaon Siddhi despite years of his reform efforts.
“These people are talking nonsense (ulat sulat) like (Kapil) Sibal. They are Kapil Sibal’s brothers,” he said, as crowds cheered loudly against the Union telecom minister, who has become a hate figure among Anna’s supporters consequent to being a leading government spokesperson on the issue and due to his attacks on Hazare.