Mumbai: The latest round of Lokpal battle is all set to begin in less than 24 hours from now, with doctors giving a go ahead to Anna Hazare to sit on a three-day fast beginning Tuesday at Mumbai’s MMRDA Ground.
Hazare had been keeping unwell for the past three days leading to uncertainty as to whether he would be able to go ahead with his third fast this year for a strong Lokpal.
However, doctors today said the 74-year-old social activist is fit enough to go ahead with his Gandhian way of protest.
"Anna was suffering from cold and cough for the past three days. I prescribed him some anti-biotics, he has been taking rest for the past two days. He will be fit for tomorrow`s protest," Devlat Pote, who is treating him, told reporters.
Even his blood pressure and temperature is normal, the doctor added.
However, a close aide of Hazare said that the activist was running a fever and cough, "so he skipped his morning walk today".
"But there is no change in his plans for the agitation. Once he is determined to do something, nothing can stop him," the aide added.
While Hazare will be sitting on a three-day fast at MMRDA Ground at suburban Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai, all eyes would be on Parliament in New Delhi where Lokpal Bill would be discussed, debated and possibly voted upon during the next three days of an extended Winter Session. The government had introduced a reworked version of the Lokpal Bill in Lok Sabha last week.
Hazare, who is currently at his native village Ralegan Siddhi, will be reaching Mumbai later today.
"Hazare will start from his village Ralegan-Siddhi around 3 pm by road and is expected to reach Mumbai by 8 pm," an aide said.
Earlier, he was expected to start his journey at 1 pm.
On his way to Mumbai, Hazare would make a stop at Sant Dnyaneshwar Samadhi at Alandi near Pune. In Mumbai, he would stay at the state government guest house near the Sea-Link in Bandra.
In Mumbai, the 48,000 square metres Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) Ground where hectic preparations are on, has a capacity to accommodate over 60,000 people. However, it will be renting out 20,000 square metres for the rally and 10,000 square metres for parking.
MMRDA has specified December 26 for pandal erection and December 30 for its removal. Team Anna has paid Rs 7.78 lakh as rent and Rs 5.29 lakh as security deposit for the rally.
The Mumbai police will be deploying 2,000 men in two shifts from December 27 for Hazare’s hunger strike. Apart from the policemen, there will be SRPF and Quick Response Team personnel to handle the crowd.
Team Anna will also provide 1,000 volunteers to the Mumbai police to manage the crowd and to maintain the peace.
Hazare and key members of his team, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, are scheduled to fast with him in Mumbai, while some others will undertake the fast in Delhi.
And beginning December 30 till January 1, Team Anna will hold ‘jail bharo aandolan’ if Parliament fails to pass a strong and effective Lokpal Bill.
During the press meet at Ralegan Siddhi on Sunday, Hazare had said that he would stage dharna outside residences of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in Delhi after his three-day fast in Mumbai and asked his supporters to refrain from violence during the stir.
"Some people are waiting for violence during the agitation. If there is violence, the agitation will be maligned," Hazare said addressing a "gram sabha" in the village.
"During the agitation in Delhi, we have prepared ourselves to receive lathi blows if the government resorts to cane charge," he added.
The activist first went on a five-day fast in April in support of an effective Lokpal Bill, triggering nationwide solidarity protests. A worried government then held talks with him and his team.
Unhappy over the progress of events, Hazare launched his second and more successful fast spread over 12 days in Delhi`s Ramlila Grounds, this time forcing the government to agree to some of his key demands.
Thereafter, he held a day-long protest on December 11.