M Raghu’s journey to activist Anna Hazare’s village Ralegan Siddhi was more of a mission than an ordinary visit. Raghu, hailing from Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, had travelled all the way to seek Hazare’s support as he plans to contest the upcoming general elections. “Anna has declared that he would support Independent candidates and his support would mean a lot for my campaign,” he said. For gaining a five-minute audience, Raghu waited the entire day and at the end of it was asked by Hazare to submit his documents in the latter’s office.
As the elections near, the tiny village of Ralegan Siddhi has started witnessing a new breed of visitors with clear cut political visions. Like Raghu, many intend to contest the elections as Independent candidates and hope to get Hazare’s support. Also in queue are many non-mainstream political parties, which are hoping to impress Hazare with their credentials and get his support. Although Hazare has so far remained non-committal, this has not deterred people from making a beeline for Ralegan Siddhi.
When asked about the reason of his trip, Raghu’s answer was simple: “Anna’s name and his popularity have reached all across the country. If he supports or endorses any candidate, it would make a lot of difference to his/her vote share.” That Hazare has never really visited the south Indian states failed to act as a deterrent for Raghu, who said Hazare was popular there also.
Groups claiming to represent ex-servicemen, farmers and marginalised sectors of society can also be seen in Ralegan Siddhi, often waiting for hours to present their case before Hazare.
Hazare’s aides confirm that his office, of late, is getting a lot of calls and visitors of this nature. Apart from Tamil Nadu, there are visitors from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, who have come to present their case in front of Hazare.
While addressing one such group, Hazare had said that along with good credentials, people desirous of contesting should also have good ground connect. “Without that no one will be able to get elected,” he said.
Hazare had earlier made it clear that he would not support any political party, but would canvass for Independents. For instance, Balasaheb Darade — the Zilla Parishad member from Buldhana, who is contesting the elections as an Independent for the same LS seat — has earned Hazare’s support. Hazare had also gone to a rally in his support at Deulgaon Raja a few weeks ago.