Photographs: Sanjeev Dey Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
Team Anna proved to be a big hit in Lucknow where thousands converged on the banks of the Gomati river to cheer social activist Arvind Kejriwal and others who swore to not just unseat corrupt politicians but to bring grassroots changes in the system of governance.
"We have nothing against the Congress party in particular, but the fact that this party alone was in a position to initiate the process of this desired change by passing the Jan Lokpal Bill in the coming winter session of Parliament led us to focus our attention on the party," said Kejriwal.
Kejriwal looked undaunted by an attempted attack by a suspected Congress supporter who tried to hit him as he stepped out of his vehicle to climb up to the dais.
In order to buttress his point he went on to ask the crowds, "Can the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) leader Mayawati get the bill passed? Can it be done by Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav? Or can the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) do it?" And when the reply to each question came with a flat "no", he flung the ultimate query, "Is Sonia Gandhi in a position to do so?" At once came the resounding chorus, "yes".
Kejriwal went on to add, "If you wish to bring an end to all the corruption - be it under Mayawati, Mulayam, BJP or the Congress - raise the demand for passing the Jan Lokpal Bill."
Going a step further, Kejriwal said, "Uttar Pradesh has broadly seen four political parties over the past 64 years since independence and each of them have proved to be as disappointing as the other in providing clean governance." He sought to make it loud and clear that if Congress was involved in multiple scams, BJP was not far behind and so were the parties run by Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav. "As such, a mere change of party will not help; now we need to evolve a new mechanism through change in the very system," he said.
Referring to the oft repeated assertion by politicians of all shades about the supremacy of Parliament, the activist once again sought to know from the crowds whether they believed that the people were supreme, as the Parliament was a creation of the people. The reply came with a thunderous "yes", which was followed by a louder applause.
He was clearly able to drive home Anna's message to build pressure on the Congress–led United Progressive Alliance government to not only introduce the much awaited Jan Lokpal Bill during the forthcoming winter session of Parliament but to also ensure its passage.
Team Anna members flay Congress leaders for targeting Anna
Photographs: Sanjeev Dey
"Obviously the game of these and other Congress leaders is to somehow sabotage this anti-corruption movement, as it threatens the very existence of their party colleagues like Chidambaram, Kalmadi and the likes in public life," cautioned Kejriwal, while emphasising upon the need "to follow Anna's Gandhian path of non-violence and truth that would continue to maintain the strength of this movement."
Kejriwal as well other team Anna speakers including Manish Sisodia, Kumar Vishwas, Gopal Rai, Maulana Mufti Kasmi and Sanjay Singh flayed Congress leaders Digvijay Singh and Manish Tiwari in particular for having uttered invectives against Anna.
Kumar Vishwas, who is a well-known Hindi poet, came up with interesting one-liners that were a befitting retort to the vitriolic launched by Congress leader Digvijay Singh against Anna and his team. And to Digvijay's oft repeated charge of a nexus between Anna and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, it was Sanjay Singh who shot back, "Well Digvijay's own brother was a hardcore saffron-minded man, who even contested an election on a BJP ticket and it was his frustration that had led him to spread this canard against us."
Earlier, the programme began with Lata Mangeshwar's memorable patriotic song-'Aye mere watan ke logon', rendered by 12-year-old Farah, who had come down with team Anna from Delhi and who mesmerised the audience with her melodious voice.