Going political, IAC Bengaluru fast to end tomorrow

Two women fasters were transferred to hospital from Freedom Park earlier this week. One of them, a nurse, also rejoined the fast. The Bengaluru campaign will end at 4pm Friday.

In line with developments at New Delhi, where Team Anna declared they will get into politics, India Against Corruption group campaign in Bengaluru will call off its fast at 4pm, Friday August 4th. "The ten fasters will likely continue to fast till 4pm tomorrow, even though they do not have to", said Ashwin Mahesh, one of IAC’s coordinators in the Hazare-led nationwide campaign against corruption. IAC Bengaluru is conducting the campaign at Freedom Park is to support Anna Hazare’s fast at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi for the Lok Pal bill.

In an noteworthy development, just hours before the Team Anna announcement came, Bengaluru-based ABIDe member and urban reforms campaigner R K Misra requested Hazare’s group to call off their fast. "Having made its point and exposing the insincerity of current political parties in tackling the corruption, it is high time that Team Anna should change it’s strategy", he said, in a post in Facebook on August 2nd.

Students from Jindal Degree School in the IAC campaign. Pic:Sankar C G

Equally noteworthy is the fact that Misra asked IAC to get political instead of remaining apolitical. Team Anna must support alternative political parties, noted Misra. "Send representations, suggestions and amendments to the Joint Select Committee of MPs, which is looking into the suggested amendments to the Lok Pal Bill", he added. Misra took the view that the suggestions to improve the Lok Pal bill should not just be given to the select committee in the Parliament but also to every member MP of the select committee individually in their constituency or at their New Delhi residence.

IAC volunteers in Bengaluru have been making two specific demands on the central government at Freedom Park. One, constitute a Special Investigation Team for the "tainted central ministers" and two, fast-track pending criminal cases against "tainted MPs". They are also demanding that the state government immediately appoint a Lokayukta for Karnataka.

Not all IAC volunteers in Bengaluru had expected Hazare’s decision to go political. "Overall, the opinion amongst volunteers in the city is in favour of this", said Anand Yadawad. "But not everyone supports this", he added quickly. "Some volunteers wanted to this to be apolitical movement", said Yadawad.

Steely determination

Yesterday, the solidarity fast at Freedom Park in Bengaluru entered its second week without any serious health issues. Two women were transferred to hospital, of the ten fasting.

The fasters
Yoganand P, Advocate, Vijayanagar.
Neelam Krishna– Editor, Hellow Magazine, Domlur
Sahana Angadi, Nurse
Dr Rajan Thaneeja
Abdul Razaq, Businessman
K V S Krishna, Businessman
Ashok Narayanan, Activist
Ambare Gowda, Activist, Raichur
Surugesh, Businessman
Mohan Kumar, Farmer, Bangalore

Sahana S Angadi, a city-based staff nurse and Neelam Krishna from Domlur were the two fasters admitted to hospital. "I am fine now and do not care about my health. My fast is for a Jan Lokpal Bill" said a sprited Sahana. "It is our vote that gave power to the government but they are neglecting the facts so we should not go back," she said. Sahana works at Venkateshwara Hospital, Bangalore, and has since rejoined the fast.

As observed in fasts held for the Lok Pal campaign at Freedom Park last year, all the fasters this time have steely determination and hope in their words. "I will fast unto death if the government does not implement a strong Lokpal Bill. It takes time for every good thing to happen, but at the end of the day we will have a strong Lokpal," said Yoganand P, another faster. Yoganand is a lawyer.

Mahesh said he is humbled by the fasters. "Putting one’s body to such suffering, the mental strength of the fasters is amazing. They know what they are doing is important for India, and that gives them great energy. One can almost feel it in their presence", he said.

When the campaign started on July 25th, the number of people participated was over thousand. And then participation came down. In the seventh day of fast, there were only 200 people to support the campaign. "Participation is very less because people need to go for work. In the very first day of the campaign, we had more than 1500 people," said Ashok Urs, one of the volunteers.

Mahesh felt that the crowds are not the issue, and asked for deeper reflection. "Whatever the numbers of people at the parks, everyone understands that hundreds of millions of other Indians want the anti-corruption campaign to succeed. And it is this deeper truth that keeps us going", he said.

Students from Jindal Degree College for Women, Tumkur, came on Tuesday to support the campaign. "We are supporting IAC’s campaign. Our children are here to provide spare energy," said A K Sreedhar, a liaison for Jindal Aluminum Ltd.

As noted at the beginning, IAC Bengaluru plans to call off the fast at 4pm tomorrow at Freedom Park, one hour before Anna Hazare’s group ends the campaign at New Delhi.

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