Claiming that 10.50 lakh Delhhites had signed letters protesting the inflated power and water bills, activist-turned-politician and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal – on indefinite fast for 14 days – on Friday announced to end his fast on Saturday at 5 pm.
“These 10.50 lakh letters signed by Delhiites to be sent to (Delhi chief minister) Sheila Dikshit are in a way a referendum, a huge referendum,” said Kejriwal, who had been camping at Sundar Nagari, a nondescript slum redevelopment cluster in northeast Delhi since March 23.
He was fasting against what AAP described as “inflated power and water bills due to corruption” as part of their “civil disobedience movement” and simultaneously, through 264 centres across as many wards, AAP volunteers were fanning out colonies to get people to sign a letter pledging they would not pay inflated power and water bills.
“Through this exercise, we have been able to reach out to almost 30-35 lakh people from the poorest of poor families. Dikshit had received 24 lakh votes in the last elections. It means, more people than that have demanded that the power rates should come down,” Kejriwal said to a loud cheer from his supporters gathered in the tiny lane.
“Does this mean, all these people would actually stop paying bills? Possibly no. But this is a beginning. Even if 30-40 % of these people don’t pay the bills, it would be more than enough. It would mean, this exercise has helped people get rid of fear,” a visibly weak Kejriwal – drinking only water he has lost more than 8 kg since March 23 – said.
Announcing the next phase of civil disobedience, he said, starting Saturday – coinciding with the anniversary of event when Mahatma Gandhi broke the Salt Act after completion of Dandi March on April 6, 1930 – “we will go from colony to colony and reconnect the connections severed due to non-payment of bills.”
The former lieutenant of Anna Hazare, veteran anti-graft activist, said he had thought he would break his fast after accepting a glass of juice from Hazare, “but he is busy with his own schedule, he has sent his blessings.”
“My fast ends tomorrow, but the civil disobedience movement will continue,” the AAP leader declared.