I was asked a strange question, viz, whether Anna’s movement has ended? Has Anna become silent and sat down? Has he become so silent that whatever is happening in the country or what is likely to happen – he has no opinions on it? I was startled at hearing these questions, because the person asking these questions is an Annaji supporter, and is very much ‘for him’ with all his heart and soul. When these questions have arisen in the mind of even such a person, then it becomes essential to know what, after all, is Anna doing.
At this time Anna is in his ashram ( hermitage) at his village Ralegan Siddhi, which is 80 kilometres from Pune. Since last October, Anna has not been keeping well. On 30 March, 2013 Anna had started a countrywide Jantantra yatra. Amritsar’s Jalianwala Bagh was the starting point for the yatra. The ending point is not yet known, but for 5 months Anna toured in 6 States of the country. In these 6 States, he got overwhelming support. People promised and pledged to give him support. Anna was very happy at seeing such enthusiasm and wanted to continue with the yatra, but suddenly some health problems surfaced. Anna is now 76 years old, and there are some illnesses that are also linked to age. When Anna began experiencing some difficulty in urination, a simple prostate operation was performed, but when doctors found a hard growth in the prostate, an ordinary operation suddenly became a big operation. Doctors had to persevere for almost 7 hours to remove that hard knot. In the process, Anna lost so much blood that his physical state, his physical capacity hit rock bottom. Anna refused to take blood transfusions, and he began trying to improve his blood levels through a natural diet.
Suddenly, another disease surfaced. Anna had toured the 6 States by road. About 750 meetings were held in these States and travelling for these meetings along pot holed and mountainous roads caused a problem in his spine. Two discs in his spine have degenerated and are causing him immense back pain, for which he is on medication. The weakness is evident in Anna’s voice too. Even in such a state, Anna is daily meeting those who come to meet him at his ashram. At Ralegan Siddhi, people come to meet him from all over India and all day — it is as if some ‘mela’ (fair) is going on. Anna has only one hour in the afternoon to sleep, perhaps between 3.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. when he does not meet anyone. Otherwise he meets people from 8.30 a.m. onwards till 9.30-10 p.m., explains things to them and counsels them and talks to them about conditions in the country.
Anna feels that until the people of the country start dreaming of keeping Parliament under control, till then Parliament will not come to a position of thinking in their favour. And I think that the spirit of the entire ‘revolution’ of Jai Prakash Narayan and the spirit in the footsteps of Anna for societal change is the same in spirit and in letter. Now it remains to be seen how many political parties Anna’s faith can prod and shake, how many people it can prepare who will take Anna’s dream to the Lok Sabha.
Anna is not a politician that he should call the Press daily and give statements. And, because he is not a politician, politicians do not come to him either. Anna supporters, particularly supporters from North India, want to meet him, but often they do not have the means to travel to Ralegan Siddhi. The media goes to Anna when there is some crisis in the country, or when they want a byte or statement from Anna about Arvind Kejriwal so they can generate some controversy in the country. And here another thing has become apparent — that the media never asks Anna questions about the country, the Prime Minister, the opposition parties or development. Mostly, the questions asked are related to Arvind Kejriwal. Anna hesitates to answer these questions, because it is not a person who is important for him, it is the issue that is important. Therefore Anna does not encourage the media much. Recently, some people from the media went to Ralegan Siddhi and took a long interview with Anna. In this sequence, the interview taken by Sumit Awasthi on Zee News was keenly watched by many people.
These days, along with efforts to improve his health at Ralegan Siddhi, Anna is writing a long article on how democracy can be brought in this country and where after all has democracy in the country disappeared. Anna has prepared an economic programme. Earlier, Anna had made a 24 point programme and now he has pruned it to 17 points. He has sent this economic programme to all politicians in the country and has told them that it is necessary for the country, you should give an assurance to the people of the country that if you win in the coming Lok Sabha elections, you will implement this economic programme. This economic programme includes villages, water-forests- land, unemployment, farmers, issue linked to their lands, foreign companies, and difficulties linked with corruption. In fact, this document is a document of change in India, it is a document to save India from anarchy, and it is a document to start new politics in India.
The most surprising thing is that except for two political parties, no other party has given a reaction to this economic programme. Out of those who responded, the first name is that of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Her party’s general secretary Shri Mukul Roy sent a letter to Anna stating that we accept this programme in totality and we are committed to fight for it. Second, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has given oral support to the programme and he said that he fully supports Anna’s struggles, Anna’s policies, Anna’s programme. Apart from these two parties, no other major political party has come forward so far. Dr. Mohammad Ayub from the Peace Party of Uttar Pradesh has supported this document hundred per cent and this document has also been fully supported by Dr. Kirori Lal Meena of the National Peoples Party in Rajasthan. The question is whether the Peace Party and National Peoples Party have accepted Anna’s economic programme because they are small parties and have given support with the hope of gaining and becoming bigger, or whether they feel their responsibility is as much as that which can be seen in the irresponsible Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. These parties have not even acknowledged or accepted the existence of Anna’s letter.
Meanwhile, the whole country knows and accepts that the Lokpal Bill was passed in Parliament because of Anna Hazare. If Anna had not fasted, then neither would this Lokpal Bill have gone to Parliament and nor would it have been passed. Some people had wanted that Anna should not accept the Lokpal Bill in this form, because it is not in the form that Anna had placed before the country in August 2011. To this Anna had replied that I have taken it, brought it as far as I could. Now, further work can be done by those who think that it is half done, incomplete or is weak. To bring a strong Lokpal they should campaign in the country, tour the country.
No Third Front has been formed in the country. People are doomed to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, because apart from these two parties, the other parties that are there talk too much and do no work. Gradually, the elections have come on our heads and till now they have not even held any formal talks. But there appears to be a stirring, which Anna’s economic programme has accepted. Anna’s economic programme can be seen as a central meeting point for several parties. If this central point works and political workers from the country or outside begin to come together around, there will be a new kind of pressure on those political parties which are not associated with the BJP and the Congress and it is this important thing that has spread in the air in the country.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress are taking stock of how many people have accepted the economic programme and will Anna venture forth to support those who have accepted it. At the moment, no one has the answer to this question. I believe that Anna himself does not yet have the answer to this question, but the answer to this question, viz, what will be Anna’s attitude and views on political parties who support his programme, and to those who do not support it — will come in March. Anna’s attitude to the Aam Aadmi Party too will be clearly seen in April, when he will give before the Press his opinions for or against those who have to accepted his economic programme.
It is less a matter of sorrow and more a matter of happiness that Anna Hazare is still not silent on matters related to the country. He wants to create such a ground force which keeps an eye on the promises made to solve the problems of the country or creates pressure for keeping those promises. Anna feels that until the people of the country start dreaming of keeping Parliament under control, till then Parliament will not come to a position of thinking in their favour. And I think that the spirit of the entire ‘revolution’ of Jai Prakash Narayan and the spirit in the footsteps of Anna for societal change is the same in spirit and in letter. Now it remains to be seen how many political parties Anna’s faith can prod and shake, how many people it can prepare who will take Anna’s dream to the Lok Sabha. Or then, the time is there to see whether the hopes or doubts of people who expect that Anna will, taking the merits and demerits of elections, surely speak about political parties, will be fulfilled or proved baseless or the other way – whether the doubts will be proved true and the desires prove to be chimerical. And perhaps in the next 15-20 days, situations will begin to become clearer.