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Anna draws huge crowds once again; joins indefinite fast

By Priyanka
Last updated on: July 29, 2012 21:41 IST
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As thousands gathered at Jantar Mantar to support Team Anna's fight for the Jan Lokpal Bill, Anna Hazare joined other fasting members, while Arvind Kejriwal released his book titled Swaraj. Priyanka reports.

It is not hard to understand why social activist Anna Hazare joined the fasting members of his team on Sunday even though there were reports that the team members had discouraged him to sit on fast. People came in large numbers to Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Sunday afternoon, giving the agitation a much needed boost.

Anna Hazare joined team members Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai, and said that he was sitting on an indefinite hunger strike unless a strong Jan Lokpal bill is adopted.

There were at least three to four thousand people present at the Jantar Mantar, while a few thousand walked in and out. People waived national flags and shouted slogans.

"We are here to support Anna Hazare," said Nitin, a second year student of Delhi University. He reached Jantar Mantar with his friends in the afternoon and said it was convenient for him to visit the protest site on a weekend.

The day also marked the release of a book 'Swaraj', authored by Arvind Kejriwal. He argued that the book proposed a model of democracy that the people needed.

'Swaraj' proposed that the power to make and implement policy decisions about public welfare should lie with the people, Kejriwal argued.

"The power should be in villages, and in the cities such power should be vested with mohalla sabhas in every colony," he said.

"We want power now," Kejriwal said setting the tone for the agitation in the days ahead.

 "Why should somebody in Delhi or the state capital decide what plans are fit for a village?" asked Kejriwal to a cheering crowd.

"Why should Yojana Bhawan tell that a person who is earning 26 rupees per day is not poor?" asked Kejriwal.

 "We don't want such a democracy where the role of the people is limited to voting once in five years. We want the people to have a direct say in the making and implementing of policies of public welfare."

"Laws should be made by the people, and not in the Parliament," Kejriwal said hinting that it has also been argued in 'Swaraj'.

The editorial chairman at Outlook Vinod Mehta and social scientist Yogendra Yadav were also present briefly at Jantar Mantar to talk about the book.

Mehta said that he agreed with the concept of the book and said that power centers in the country should be decentralised, and should reach a common villager or a person living in a small town.

But it's a going to be a long way ahead, Mehta agreed. 

Social Scientist Yogendra Yadav compared Kejriwal's model of governance as proposed in 'Swaraj', and said, "It has given us a roadmap to a new system, very similar to what Gandhiji and Jai Prakash movement did."

"Power should reach the villages, and JP used to say what Arvind Kejriwal is saying now," Yadav said.

"The book is also similar to the ideology of Ram Manohar Lohia," Yadav explained, "The society sits on four pillars -- the center, the state, the district and the village."

Yadav explained the crux of the book: Matters directly related to the villagers should be resolved at the village level; other decisions which are not about a single village alone, like issues related to electricity and water, should be addressed at the district level; planning needs to be addressed at the state level, and only matters of national importance such as currency and army should be dealt with at the national level.

The team members were excited about the large turnout of the crowds at Jantar Mantar. A section of Anna Hazare's supporters also began a march from India Gate at about 7 pm.

But the week ahead would really be testing times for Team Anna, and it would be interesting to see how many turn up later in the week. The team members seem to have taken the challenge head-on. Arvind Kejriwal called upon the youth in the crowd and said, "Agla hafte desh ke naam."

He asked for the college-going youth to join the agitation for a week, and support a strong Jan Lokpal Bill.

Anna Hazare said that people should read 'Swaraj' and decide for themselves whether it is the government which has drifted apart from the path or the IAC movement. He said that a true democracy is one in which people make decisions and not politicians or bureaucrats.

India Against Corruption claimed that amongst the 400 members who were on indefinite hunger strike, 11 had to be taken to hospital due to ill health. A 60-member medical team is constantly monitoring the health of those fasting, they said. 

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