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Hazare, team end fast; promise people's movement as political alternative

Friday August 03, 2012 08:36:59 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: Anna Hazare and his team ended their indefinite fast against corruption here Friday evening, spelling out the contours of their political alternative that would be a "movement" to put an end to the "Delhi-centric government" and take governance to the villages and the people.

Hitting out at an "unresponsive government" that refused to buckle to their demands of passing the Jan Lokpal bill for creation of an ombudsman to probe graft in the system, Team Anna, as Hazare's band of civil society activists is known, said they would take their agitation "inside parliament and on the streets".

Ending their fast before thousands of cheering and clapping supporters at the Jantar Mantar here, Hazare and his team were joined on the stage by former army chief Gen. V.K. Singh, who said that the time had come for a change in politics "as the country is directionless".

The former army chief, who had filed a suit in the Supreme Court challenging the government's stand on his date of birth, warned Hazare to be prepared to face opposition from "anti-democratic forces".

Team Anna ended their indefinite fast at around 6.30 p.m. with coconut water given to them by Singh.

Arvind Kejriwal said their political alternative would not be a party but an "andolan" or movement and they would tour the country to meet farmers, the youth and other people to know their problems and seek solutions and come up with a manifesto.

"Our aim is not to grab power, but to end the Delhi-centric government and take governance to the villages and the people. Ours will not be a party, but a movement," Kejriwal told the cheering crowd.

Kejriwal, who was on fast since the past 10 days and his weakening health condition had led to serious concern, spoke for just over half an hour about the political alternative.

"There will be no party high command and the people will select the candidates. We will go among the farmers and the people and ask them about their problems. They will tell us about their problems and their solutions. We will also go among the youth and ask them about the problems they face and ask for solutions. Likewise, we will go around the entire country and meet people. They will form the ghoshna patra, or manifesto."

"Ours will have the structure of an andolan, and be what the people want."
Kejriwal said that if the government acceded to their demands of "right to recall (non performing MPs), right to reject (candidates) and empower village councils" then they would not go for a political alternative. He denied that they had broken their fast because the government had not approached them to call off their fast.

He said they would put up on their website all the donations they get and threw an open challenge to the political parties to do the same, and likewise with their expenses.

Kejriwal invited those in the ruling Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party to join their "desh bhakt" movement if they were feeling "suffocated" in their respective parties.

"I have a vision that in three years, India will change," he added. General elections in India are due in 2014.

Hazare reiterated that he would not enter politics but give support to the political alternative.

Hazare, 75, said "If the Jan Lokpal bill and not the Lokpal bill is passed then it will end 65 percent corruption in the country".

He also taunted politicians "who stay in air conditioned rooms and were unaware of the plight of the poor".

Hazare and his team members Thursday announced that they will call off their fast Friday.

Arvind Kejriwal, Gopal Rai and Manish Sisodia began their fast July 25 and were joined by Hazare July 29.

Their announcement Thursday evening to call off their fast and form a political alternative was welcomed by political parties, with the Congress saying that Team Anna's hidden political ambitions had become clear.

Swati Agarwal, a supporter, said she was very happy that Team Anna was forming a political party."I will surely vote for the party of Team Anna in the next elections."

This was Hazare's fourth fast against corruption, and Team Anna's first.




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