Keep the flame burning, says Anna | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Keep the flame burning, says Anna

delhi Updated: Aug 29, 2011 01:40 IST
HT Correspondent
Ramlila Maidan

An expectant crowd spilling over the edges at Ramlila Maidan waited amidst high decibel slogans and loud cheering for their hero on Sunday - 74-year-old anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare.

Clad in his trademark white dhoti-kurta, donning a Gandhi cap, Hazare emerged on the podium at 9.34am waving at the ecstatic supporters and raised slogans in clear, albeit a little weak, voice, 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai', 'Vande Mataram' and 'Inquilab Zindabad'. The milling crowds, making all out efforts to catch a glimpse of the veteran activist, erupted in loud cheer.

Waving tri-colours, dancing to the beats of dholaks and generally celebrating in gaiety, the anxious supporters waited for the social activist to break his fast that he had started on August 16 demanding passage of a strong Lokpal Bill.

In an apparent attempt to overcome criticism that their version of the bill had neglected the weaker sections and minority communities, team Anna gestured into a symbolism of sorts when Hazare broke his fast.

At 10.20am, eight-year-old Iqra, a Muslim girl from neighbouring Turkman Gate, and four-year-old Simran, a Dalit, offered honey and tender coconut water to the Hazare as television cameras and photographers struggled to capture the moment.

"I will go around the country till the fight for total change is complete. We ought to bring in total change remaining within the ambit of the Constitution. We should aim that this fight should bridge the gap between the rich and the poor," Hazare said as he elaborated the way forward.

Stressing the need for electoral reforms, the right to recall and decentralisation of power, the activist said, "Jab tak parivartan nahi aata, tab tak yeh mashal jalti rakhna (Keep the torch aflame till change occurs)."

He also asked his supporters chanting Main Bhi Anna (I am Anna too) to practice what they preached and maintain a spotless character.

However, minutes after Hazare described the totally non-violent agitation as a showcase for the world, the relentless crowds threatened to burst into stampede as people from the front rows started pushing forward to breach the first barricade.

Earlier, after thanking everyone for supporting the agitation, Arvind Kejriwal, a key IAC campaigner, said, "It is for the first time that the Parliament has taken note of the people's sentiments."

Swami Agnivesh and justice Santosh Hegde, the two founding members of IAC, who had raised questions about the rigidity of the method, were absent during the whole event.

Chronology of events