NEW DELHI: It was nearly 40 hours since protesters had heard a single word from Anna Hazare but when he took the microphone to roar ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ at Ramlila Maidan today, excitement was back among his supporters.
The crowd was waiting impatiently since morning for Hazare to emerge from his tent behind the dais amid concerns and speculation about his health condition.
Minutes felt like hours for the supporters till that moment when the septuagenarian around noon appeared on the stage, took the microphone and shouted thrice ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.
Protesters roared back the slogan and the hymn ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’ followed as Hazare listened to it in rapt attention.
Still, no one was sure whether Hazare might speak as he did not address the gathering yesterday. Nobody had expected till then that the 73-year-old Gandhian would come to the dais as doctors had advised him to avoid sun.
Hazare addressed the gathering and announced his next course of action besides some advices to protesters — “do not consume alcohol and come for protest”.
To a loud cheer, Hazare told the gathering that they should gherao residences of MPs in thousands if the government does not pass a strong Lokpal Bill by August 30. “We have to think about the next course of action. We should not sit here.
Now 25-30 people are sitting on dharnas outside MPs’ residences.
“After August 30, thousands should in front of the houses of MPs. Only then there will be an impact on them,” he said.
The Gandhian was also sad that some of his supporters were indulging in vices and had an advice to them. “Some people are coming to the protest after consuming alcohol and getting into fights…if we do something wrong, our protest will be crushed,” he warned.
“Functioning of Parliament was affected today. This is the strength of non-violence. Our movement should remain non- violent. The government has the strength to crush us if we do something wrong,” Hazare said.
He also wondered what were the benefits of alcohol consumption.
“What fun are you getting? Don’t drink. Have you ever heard that somebody has become a bodybuilder after consuming alcohol? Don’t smoke. You may get cancer,” he said.
Though the Gandhian’s speech was almost a repetition of the anecdotes he was saying for the past several months, his supporters cheered every word of it.
He repeated that he would let his head be severed but will not bow down and once again talked about those who gave a contract to kill him. Hazare reminded that his movement is a second freedom struggle as he felt that people has not got the “real freedom”.
Hazare also talked about remaining far from his near and dear ones. “I haven’t met my brothers for many years. I don’t know the names of their children,” he said.
Seeking to allay fears about his health, Hazare said he was fine and he can go on with the fast for some more time.
“My weight has decreased by 5.5 kg. Otherwise there is no difficulty,” he said.
“People are dying of heart attack. One goes to sleep at 10 pm and next morning you don’t wake up to have morning tea.
I am fasting and if I die, I will die for the country,” he said. -PTI