Anna said there was nothing wrong with forming a party but expressed concerns over funds to contest elections. “There is nothing wrong with forming a party…we need to provide an alternative to the people,” the 75-year-old said, sharing that the public’s interest has to be safeguarded. His camp was filled to capacity; around him, a sea of flags waved.
Before beginning his fast, Anna had told that while he will not join politics, he does not mind if some of his aides do.
The movement he fronts, India Against Corruption (IAC), has launched a referendum on Twitter and on its website about what sort of role it should play now. See forum
The government, which has long accused the activists of trying to dictate terms to a democratically-elected Parliament, said Team Anna has always been power-hungry and must contest elections to prove its claim of representing the will of the people.
Cabinet Minister and Congress leader Ambika Soni pointed out that joining the political process is an arduous task. “Some of us always felt they were always inching towards active politics. They’ll understand obligations and constraints,” she said.
Social activist and an Anna supporter, Medha Patkar, too warned Anna, saying “He should think at least a hundred times before joining politics.”
Earlier on Thursday, a group of prominent citizens including Justice Santosh Hegde and former Army Chief General VK Singh wrote to Anna, urging him to end his fast and focus on giving people a political alternative. “The ongoing fast represents a voice of conscience… the political establishment has not cared to listen, leave alone to respond, to this voice,” their letter says, urging Anna and his associates to “form an alternative political force.”
Anna has been fasting since Sunday; his aides, Arvind Kejriwal, Gopal Rai and Manish Sisodia, have not eaten in nine days.
Anna’s critics say that the decision to end the hunger strike to formalise the activists’ political strategy is a much-needed exit from an unsuccessful stand-off with the government. This time around, ministers said the concerns about Team Anna’s health would prompt no appeals to end the fast or offers for talks. After nine days without any food and worrying medical reports, the activists had to end their strike without appearing to be defeated.
This protest camp and hunger strike was organised by India Against Corruption to demand the immediate introduction of a new law against graft, based on the Lokpal Bill. Through a series of fasts last year – one of which lasted 16 days – Anna has raised the awareness of the Lokpal Bill across the country. The proposed legislation is named for the national ombudsman agency that it births, with the powers to investigate and prosecute corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
The government says it has done its job by bringing the bill to Parliament – it was passed by the Lok Sabha in December, but has been held up in the Rajya Sabha since then. Ministers say they are committed to pushing the legislation through, but timelines cannot be forced by activists using hunger strikes as blackmail.