Low turnout marks Anna's fast

Mumbai: A surprisingly low turn-out marked the launch of Anna Hazare's three-day fast against the government's Lokpal bill which he described as "betrayal" of the people.

As 74-year-old Hazare sat on the fast at the MMRDA ground, the estimate of people at the venue varied between 4,000 to 10,000 in sharp contrast to upto 30,000-40,000 that poured in Ramlila Maidan in August.

Team Anna had said that they expected over a lakh people to turn up at the protest venue here. In Delhi too, a negligible number of protesters were at Ramlila Maidan.

Addressing the protesters, Hazare vowed to continue the "fight to the finish", warning the UPA government that he will campaign against it in the upcoming Assembly elections in five states and later in the Lok Sabha polls.

The Gandhian, who began the latest round of protest ignoring concerns over his health, asserted that the ambit of his agitation will soon be expanded to include radical electoral reforms like Right to Reject candidates.

Seeking to broadbase his agitation, Hazare said he has invited Baba Ramdev to join his stir and the yoga guru will visit the fast venue tomorrow or the day after.

"It is going to be a long-drawn battle. The agitation for strong Lokpal is like second war of independence and it has to be treated like that. We have to fight to the finish, even if we have to go to jail, we don't care," Hazare, who looked a little under the weather but resolute as usual, said.

Accusing the government at the Centre of betraying the people, he said, "this is not betrayal of Anna Hazare or Team Anna. This is the betrayal of people who will teach you a lesson."

Hazare, who is suffering from viral infection, reaffirmed his decision to campaign against the Congress in all the five election-bound states that includes Uttar Pradesh.

"Some people are trying to threaten us. They say they will not allow us to visit (the states where polls are to be held). Those whose fear of death has died don't fear anything," he said.

Hazare said he would tour the entire country to spread awareness about the intentions of the government. "We will tell them that the nation's treasury is under threat more from its keepers than thieves. The nation faces greater threat from traitors within than enemies outside."