Lucknow: Thousands of supporters of Anna Hazare marched down the main thoroughfares of this Uttar Pradesh capital Saturday, asking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to contest Lok Sabha elections.
They were reacting to Chief Minister Mayawati`s remarks Thursday, challenging Hazare to contest the next Lok Sabha election and then get the Jan Lokpal bill passed in parliament.
"Everytime Anna raises the pitch against corruption, one or the other politician attempts to throw the gauntlet at him by asking him to contest election and form his own government," said Professor Maroof Mirza, general secretary of Shia Degree College Teachers Association.
"But we wish to dare all such politicians to collect a fraction of the crowd that emerges spontaneously all across the country for the 74-year-old crusader," declared Mirza, also a prominent leader of Lucknow University Affiliated Colleges Teachers Association.
Their sentiments were echoed by scores of other speakers who converged at Lucknow`s Jhulelal Park that has become symbolic with Delhi`s Ramlila Maidan.
Training his guns at that section of the people who were trying to label the Hazare movement as some kind of "Hindutva" affair because of the oft repeated cries of "Vande Mataram" or "Bharat Mata ki Jai", Mirza said: "We must be wary of such forces because their obvious game is to weaken this movement that is basically focused against corruption."
Sharing his views was Shaista Amber, president of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, who said: "I do not see any harm coming to my Islamic entity by calling out `Bharat Mata ji Jai` or by reciting `Vande Mataram`. I am a devout Muslim, but I am an Indian first. And I challenge such people to show me where it is written in Islam that we should not respect other religions."