Hazare undeterred by weakness, support swells

The feisty leader remained unperturbed as he continued to smile and wave at the ever-growing sea of supporters at Jantar Mantar, in the vicinity of Parliament House.

New Delhi: The third day of Anna Hazare`s fast-unto-death has started taking a toll on the social activist`s health, with doctors saying Thursday that his blood pressure was slightly high. However, the feisty leader remained unperturbed as he continued to smile and wave at the ever-growing sea of supporters at Jantar Mantar, in the vicinity of Parliament House.

"I am just a little weak, otherwise am fine. I can continue like this for at least another seven days," Hazare said, even as volunteers brought him a glass of water.

According to one of his supporters, the 72-year-old Gandhian is surviving only on water for the past three days.

A doctor attending on him said: "Anna`s blood pressure is a little high, so we have advised him to speak less. He is also a little weak, otherwise he`s fine".

Vasanthi Raman, one of the several young volunteers managing the growing crowd, said they have been advising people not to compel the leader to speak.

"We request you not to go up to the dais and force Anna to speak. He is advised to speak less. Please be here and give us your support. Anna will speak at a designated time," she told the enthusiastic supporters, many of who had come from different states of the country.

Raman said: "Even I fasted along with him for two days, but had to break my fast yesterday because I have had to run around for a lot of work. But Anna has a lot of supporters, young and old, who are fasting with him and showing their support in this fight against corruption".

Doctors and lawyers, teachers and students, activists and home makers - the mass of people gathered at Jantar Mantar was huge and varied. Each one had their own way of expressing support.

One supporter, for instance, brought with him a sword to gift to Anna.

"The sword symbolises that we will axe corruption. Anna has the power to do it and we are with him," he told the volunteers.

However, the volunteers prevented him from going ahead with his plan.

"Please do not bring gifts for Anna. He has specifically asked everyone not to do any such thing. We just need your support," a volunteer announced.

With the sun beating down on the crowd, there were also some who fell unconscious. Doctors present at the site quickly attended to the ill.

Vinay Khetripal of the Delhi Medical Association, who checked on Hazare along with other doctors, said: "I just want to tell you all that we support the cause and as a contribution, I assure you my services. There will be doctor volunteers here all the time and there will be no dearth of medicines".

Mamta Verma, a physics professor at Delhi University who came to the site with some of her colleagues, said: "I have fasted for a day today to show my support to Anna Hazare. It`s high time someone had taken up this cause and I am so glad that it is him. I am sure that change will come about."

Verma said that ever since Hazare`s campaign began, college campuses too have been abuzz with discussions.

"I am very happy to see a number of my students here today. If the youth is conscious, the country will be saved," she added.

Savita Kumari, a homemaker from east Delhi, said: "I didn`t know who he was until three days ago. Then when I saw on TV that he was fasting to fight corruption for us. Then I told myself that if he can do this for the entire country, isn`t it our responsibility to at least come and show our support to him?".

Some people also wore a badge with the message "Manmohan Singh, do you want us to vote for you? Then support us".

Anna Hazare is demanding that the Lokpal (ombudsman) bill be given more teeth so it can effectively tackle corruption in public life.


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