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Anna nostalgia Hazare, a little lonely

Anna Hazare has written eight letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his supporters said, asking him to pledge his support for a strong Lokpal Bill.

Written by Sowmiya Ashok | New Delhi | Updated: October 4, 2017 7:09 am
 Anna Hazare, India against corruption, Arvind Kejriwal, Manu Pratap Singh, Hazare movement, Hazare corruption, India news, Indian Express Social activist Anna Hazare. (Express Photo: Oinam Anand)

It was an afternoon of nostalgia for Manu Pratap Singh, a bespectacled man in his thirties. “This was how it was when the first andolan (movement) began,” he smiled, standing outside the swivelling doors of Maharashtra Sadan’s first-floor banquet hall.

Inside, social activist Anna Hazare was seated on an office chair placed on a slightly raised platform, occasionally cupping his palms behind his ears to hear the speaker a little better. To his right, farmers, jawans, taxi-drivers, government-owned hotel employees and social workers walked up to pledge their support to what might become Hazare’s “second

The man, whose anti-corruption movement in 2011 — along with Arvind Kejriwal who went on to become Delhi’s Chief Minister — marked the slow downhill movement of the UPA regime, said very little. But at the heart of the Capital, on Kasturba Gandhi Marg, he was quietly attempting to consolidate his support for a second agitation: for a “strong anti-corruption Bill” and against “repressive government

Hazare has written eight letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his supporters said, asking him to pledge his support for a strong Lokpal Bill. According to them, he wrote that even though Modi had been the Prime Minister for three years, the government had “hastily” passed amendments to weaken the anti-corruption law instead of enforcing the Lokpal Bill and the Lokayukta Act.

“In 2011, people fired from his (Anna Hazare) shoulders. The BJP and the RSS used the atmosphere that the movement created to remove the Congress,” claimed Colonel Dinesh Nain, a close aide and informal compere for the afternoon.

“He (Anna) had not planned to carry out another agitation but yesterday when he sat on a hunger strike at Rajghat, he was in quiet consultation with Gandhiji. He consulted him to ask what he should do and today’s meeting is proof enough on what he plans to do,” he said.

On Tuesday, the hundred people who had gathered at the hall came mainly from Delhi and its surroundings, some from Rohtak and Uttarakhand, and others from down the road who were on the verge of losing their jobs at government-owned hotels under threat of shutting down. These were all “junior and middle level” karyakartas, Nain said, those who had been part of the andolan from 2010. Some had left to join politics, others to start NGOs, but the ones who were inside the hall were “believers of a people’s movement”, he said.

But six years later, the mood is different. It is also a clash of generations: an older supporter wanting to go on hunger strike as the best means of agitation and a younger one wanting to start a social media campaign.

Dr Sunilam, from the Kisan Sangarsh Samiti, said he advised Hazare to attend all mass farmer agitations scheduled for the next two months. “I had cautioned him about the padyatra that we were supposed to embark on from Nagpur to Delhi after the last andolan. It never happened because there were two different groups vying for his attention. So I told him about the biggest crisis in the country at the moment: that affecting the farmers. He must show up at all the major agitations. He will get his supporters right there,” he said.

As the afternoon progressed, barbs were made of Kejriwal’s exit to politics and the Modi government’s policies that affected livelihoods — but the focus was on a “jan andolan”. “I signed an affidavit in 2015 that I will never join politics,” Ranju Minhas, from Anna Hazare’s Delhi unit, said. “Anna says don’t become part of a political party and seek tickets. The power of citizens goes away. It will lead to subsequent moral and social corruption,” she said.

Behind her, a man started to chant Anna Hazare’s name and raised his fist. “Please don’t start shouting any slogans,” Mihas told him, “we won’t be given rooms at Maharashtra Sadan again.”

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  1. Fekuchand fenydas
    Oct 4, 2017 at 9:05 pm
    Anna Hazare is a spent force now. Anna should thank Arvind Kejriwal for making his movement famous forceful. Without AK Anna movement would be nothing. The people who took advantage of Anna r Gen V.K.Singh, Kiron Bedi got position of power. Now Feku is bent on finishing Anna. He seems to have succeeded. Now there only two slogans in the air. Bharat Maata ki jai Har Har Modi.
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      Swami
      Oct 4, 2017 at 1:10 pm
      Annaji your 80letters will not work on M00dyji.Why do not you start your protest with Ramdevji your colleague previously?Why are you forgetting Ramdevji who is now in BJP camp minting money and favours from M00dyji for his hidden support to BJP? Annaji , M00dyji never let Janlokpal to be appointed in Gujarat for as many years He was CM of Gujarat, how ill He allow it now?
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        Ranju minhas
        Oct 4, 2017 at 12:31 pm
        A well written article capturing the sentiments of citizens on anti corruption movement.
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        1. N
          neem
          Oct 4, 2017 at 10:22 am
          Anna is back again. New leaders are necessary to strengthen Anna's movement. GST and demonetisation might not bring ache din immediately because it is a bitter pill. But real dooms day is not far away for India if the corruption is not eradicated in the nearest future. let India stand up to eradicate corruption both at Centre and State.
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            Pradyot Biswas
            Oct 4, 2017 at 9:05 am
            This person is with very very limited knowledge, experiences, sensibilities to cross the corridors of village panchayat to even state level . Some greedy persons placed him as a dressed-up mascot with tutored sentences / sermons, tutored poses at Raj Ghat etc. He was wearing a much bigger shoe than that what fits him at his tiny kasba. Sadly, he became a stooge of RSS/BJP over time to push bogie of anti govt at Delhi. Better he cries alone and stay where he is . His Jan-Lokpal crusade evaporated immediately with Modi's taking raj at Delhi !!!!
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