Mumbai: Carrying on his relentless campaign for a strong Lokpal, Anna Hazare on Tuesday began his three-day fast in Mumbai at the MMRDA Ground in Bandra-Kurla complex.
His fast, the third this year to bring about an effective legislation to combat corruption, coincides with a three-day extended session of Parliament called to discuss, debate and possibly pass, among other Bills, the crucial Lokpal legislation.
Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi also sat on fast along with Hazare. Social activist Medha Patkar is also at the fast venue.
Hazare earlier went to Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at Juhu beach to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation.
From Juhu, Hazare travelled to the fast venue in a motorbike rally. The rally passed through Santacruz, Tulip Star hotel, Mithibai college, SV Road, Vile Parle, Khar and Bandra Highway.
Hazare reached the financial capital last night, amid attack from the political class which dubbed him impatient and his protest premature.
Before leaving his village Ralegan-Siddhi on Monday, a defiant Hazare accused the government of insincerity in the war against graft and pledged to later take his campaign to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's residence.
"We are prepared to die," he said.
There had been speculation over Hazare’s fitness for the fast as he had been suffering from cough, cold and viral fever for the past few days, but the same was put to rest by doctors who declared the social activist fit and fine.
The fast venue has six emergency exits, 16 fire extinguishers and six metal detector units, besides round-the-clock ambulance services.
Mumbai Police have thrown a tight security cover at Anna’s fast venue. Bomb detection and disposal squads and units of Quick Response Team have been put in place, in the wake of an Intelligence Bureau alert that a suicide attack attempt on Hazare’s life could be made.
Around 2,000 constables, 200 sub-inspectors of police, six platoons of state reserve police force, three teams of Quick Response Team and two Bomb Detection and Disposal Squads will keep a hawk's vigil at the MMRDA Ground.
On Monday, even as Team Anna took pains to clarify that it too opposed communalism and respected Parliament, the Congress went on the offensive vis-a-vis the former Army man-turned-activist.
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi called him "impatient" while Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla asked him to leave the issue of Lokpal to Parliament's wisdom.
Both Alvi and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee insisted that the Lokpal Bill will be passed in the extended Winter Session of Parliament and that only Parliament could enact laws.
Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan also turned against Anna, accusing his team of "mobocracy". It was the most strident attack on Anna since his ally Lalu Prasad took him on in Parliament last week.
Hazare echoed the theme: "Our movement is not against any party or individual. We have been doing this (fighting corruption) for 25 years."
"This is not against any political party. This movement is for change. We have nothing to do with any political party."
While Hazare will fast in Mumbai, a simultaneous day-long hunger strike would be observed on all three days at Delhi's Ramlila Grounds where the Gandhian’s 12-day fast in August ignited passions and stunned the government.
Hazare's first hunger strike in April had put Lokpal on the national agenda like never before.
First Published: Tuesday, December 27, 2011, 08:55