Thursday, 18 August, 2022
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Anna Hazare’s hunger strike comes to an end, with some assurances and much bitterness

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Team Anna members say their leader accepted the assurances because without strong public support, they didn’t have as big a bargaining chip as needed.

New Delhi: Anna Hazare called off his indefinite hunger strike at Ramlila Maidan in the capital Thursday after getting assurances from the government that his demands — implementation of Lokpal, farm loan waiver and the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report — would be fulfilled soon.

However, there was much grumbling about this apparent softening in his stance, especially among members of his own team.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and union minister of state for agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat visited Hazare with assurances from the government.

“The government has assured us that they will make the appointments (Lokpal) as soon as possible. I will wait until August; if it doesn’t move, I will start the strike again in September. It should be done within a time frame,” Hazare said.

Lack of public support led to softening?

On what turned out to be the final day of the campaign, there was finally a decent turnout of around 10,000 people. The campaign had begun last Friday, but not many people turned up.

Members of Team Anna told ThePrint that their leader was disappointed with the turnout, because without public support, the agitation wasn’t able to put adequate pressure on the government.

“Anna started feeling agitated after people did not turn up. After all, he didn’t need Lokpal or election reform. It was all for the people. But if people didn’t turn up, on what basis would you negotiate hard with the government?” a member of the team told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity.

Another team member, Commander Yashwant Prakash, blamed the people of Delhi. “We’ve tried hard for the past two months to spread the word in Delhi. But people did not turn up. Why blame Anna? In the given circumstances, Anna did what he could,” he said.

But Harpal Singh, a member of Hazare’s coordination team, was unhappy with the actions of the octogenarian social activist. “If Anna had to do it this way, why was he saying all the while that he would not move from the stage until the loans of all the farmers were waived? Why didn’t he consult anybody before taking this decision?”

Singh said now farmers would find it very difficult to believe in any agitation led by Hazare.

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