Buoyed by a heavy public turnout, social activist Anna Hazare on Sunday started his fourth indefinite fast in 16 months for a strong lokpal bill while his team took on yoga guru Baba Ramdev for sharing stage with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
“My team had told me not to fast citing health reasons. But when over 400 people are on fast, I cannot ignore them and not be on fast… Till we get jan lokpal, the countrymen will not allow me to die,” Hazare said amid cheering by his supporters at the Capital’s Jantar Mantar.
In Ahmedabad, Ramdev — Hazare’s ally in his anti-corruption campaign — showered praise on Modi, inviting sharp criticism from Team Anna and once again laying bare the deep unease between the two sides, despite the show of bonhomie two days ago at Jantar Mantar.
“We were never in agreement with Modi nor are we now. He is a murderer of humanity,” Team Anna member Sanjay Singh said.
“It is for Ramdev to clarify (his presence with the Gujarat CM),” Singh, who was conducting the proceedings at Jantar Mantar, added. Hazare declined to comment on the issue. “Why do you want a discord between us?” was all he said.
But many core committee members of his team appear to be opposed for any joint action with Ramdev. They are unhappy with the yoga guru for having allowed his supporters to wave his flags when he came to Jantar Mantar on Friday.
“(The crowds on) Saturday and Sunday should have answered cynics who had attributed the public participation on Friday to a particular person,” said a Team Anna member, in an apparent reference to Ramdev.
Unlike previous occasions, there was no appeal to Hazare from the government to call off his fast. Law minister Salman Khurshid said the government was ready to get the Lokpal bill passed, but it could only be done through a consensus and not agitations.
Hazare disapproved of the defacement of walls of the Prime Minister’s residence by some of his supporters on Saturday. “I apologise. The slogans were lowly. We should think before taking any such step,” he said.