On the eve of his 18-month "Jantantra Yatra", under which he plans to visit every nook and corner of the country, social activist Anna Hazare, on Saturday, proposed to seek the verdict of the 'janata' (people) on the future course of action he and his anti-corruption campaigners should adopt to instill the fear of 'jan shakti' (people's power) in governments.
"There is a need for a 'jan kranti' (people's revolution). People as well as politicians should be made to realise that the 'janata' has the 'shakti' to pull down governments," he said while addressing the media alongside his Jantantra Morcha colleagues former army chief Gen VK Singh, Santosh Bharatiya and Syed Ghulam Jalani Kartal.
Making it clear that the Jantantra Morcha would neither contest elections nor support any political party, Anna declared that exactly five months from now, the Morcha's future line of action would be decided by the people at a 'jan sansad' (Parliament of people) at Ram Lila Maidan in New Delhi. He stressed that neither he nor the Morcha had any political ambitions.
"The 'jan sansad' will determine the future course of action for us. It is bigger than any Parliament or state assembly and its decision will be final," he said when asked how he intended to bring about a change in the political set-up in the country without contesting elections.
Both Anna and Gen Singh did not give a direct reply when asked about the stand the Jantantra Morcha would take as the yatra was bound to clash with the Lok Sabha elections scheduled to be held by May next year. "It is a hypothetical question," Gen Singh said with a smile.
Anna said the 'jan sansad' could be avoided if political parties give their viewpoints on the 25 points that the Morcha has sent in writing to every party in the country. "So far, none of the parties has sent its views on these issues, including corruption, jan lokpal and empowerment of panchayati raj institutions," he said.
Anna said the yatra was aimed at bringing about an awakening among the masses about some major issues plaguing the nation, including corruption. "Besides, we want to bring about a realisation that the 'janata' (common masses) are the masters of the political system in the country and their elected representatives are their 'sewaks' (servants). Unless politicians realise the power of the people, this country will not change. Fear of the 'janata' must be instilled to make government work," he said.
He refused to accept the notion that after his initial campaign against corruption at the Ram Lila Maidan in the national capital, he had retreated from his mission. He pointed out that his campaign had stirred the nation and people had come forth to support him and were still with him. "Anna was zero and Anna is still zero," he quipped, indicating that 'jan shakti' was his strength.
Anna alleged that the government had betrayed the people on the Jan Lokpal Bill, but he would continue to strive for it. He also referred to his demand for the "right to reject" candidates in elections, saying this was an effective way of keeping corrupt politicians out of legislatures.
'I've told Kejriwal not to prolong his fast'
Asked why Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and their Aam Aadmi Party had not joined his yatra, Anna smiled and said, "The media needs some masala." Pointing out that Kejriwal was on chain fast, he said, "I have told him not to prolong his fast and stand up and go to the 'janata'."
Morcha says no to monetary help
The yatra will commence on Sunday from Jallianwala Bagh after paying homage to the martyrs. Anna and his team will also pay obeisance at the Golden Temple and Durgiana Mandir before commencing on their 18-month yatra.
The Morcha has specified that during the course of the yatra, no money will be accepted from anyone. If people wish to help, they can, but only in kind. They can make posters and banners for the Morcha and even offer food or make arrangements for the stay of the yatris. The Morcha has no office-bearers. All its members are designated as volunteers.
Punjab his source of inspiration
Punjab will always remain an inspiration for Anna. It was here that he got a "second life". Referring to the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, Anna pointed out that he was posted in Khemkaran, where India achieved a major victory in a fierce tank battle, now famous as the Battle of Asal Uttar, during the war when an air strike took place in which all his colleagues were killed while he was wounded. "It was at Khemkaran that I decided to dedicate my second life to the betterment of the nation. I also took a decision not to marry. Khemkaran will always remain an inspiration for me as it was here that I got the message to serve the nation," he said.