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Will Anna's fast on March 25 be a flop show or a recce?
Almost a year after he started his first fast-protest in April last year, Anna Hazare will again..

KEEPING IN view that the man wearing an austere white cap had to cancel his last protest ahead of schedule due to low turnout, would this one be just a flop-show or a recce to know the mood of populace?

“I will fast until Jan Lokpal Bill is passed,” these were the words of Anna Hazare, when he began his fast last year on April 5 at Jantar Mantar. Neither the fast protest nor the Jan Lokpal Bill withstood the test of time but the man who took entire nation by storm last year is again mulling to start the fast protest, though he is being realistic this time by announcing a day-long fast on 25th March (Sunday).

According to India Against Corruption, Mr Hazare will start his fast at 11 am and he has also invited families of ‘25 Martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the fight against corruption in the past. “Annaji has been demanding a strong Janlokpal so that our anti-graft heroes are protected. Only Janlokpal contains the provision of whistleblower protection in it - the government lokpal does not mention anything about it,” it said.

The NGO has also appealed people to participate along with friends and family ‘in order to know how if Janlokpal had been implemented, many martyrs would have been alive’ and has also asked people to fast with Anna in their respective cities on the day.

But the million dollar question is whether the fast would draw crowds like it did last year – with the wisdom of hindsight one can say that people should participate, given the numbers of scams unearthed since last two years but a look at his last fast protest in Mumbai forces one to believe that it would turn out to be a flop-show. Given the skimpy participation of people, Mr Hazare had to call off his protest at MMRDA Ground in Mumbai ahead of the schedule on the second day in December last. Though the reasons quoted were ‘the failing health of Mr Hazare’ but all and sundry know that media attraction is guaranteed only if you have a swelling participation of people, at least.

Without exaggeration, it has been observed that Mr Hazare’s movement was just trying to blackmail and cower down the government through ‘fast unto death’ calls and when even such calls failed, Mr Hazare threatened the Congress-led UPA government of initiating an ant—Congress campaign in five poll-bound states for failing to bring in a strong Lokpal bill.

One can’t forget the scenes of last year when whole of the country rallied behind Mr Hazare, demanding an end to corruption and a strong legislation to rid them of the daily hassles they faced at the hands of corrupt officers and politicians. Middle class was most vociferous in the campaign and a former truck driver, who was known only to people in his native village, Ralegan Siddhi became a household name across the country. Such was the popularity of ‘anti-corruption’ crusader that even kids would wear caps, proclaiming ‘Main Anna Hoon’. Since this section of the population had the most dealing with the lower-rung officers in the government departments and obviously faced the maximum hassles, so it was not a surprise that they rallied behind a voice that promised them an end to daily humiliations. But, as the movement surged ahead, it lost the momentum and people could decipher that this was just trying to blackmail the government and bringing down the supremacy of Indian parliament.

Now, this is another year and with this fast, is Mr Hazare hinting at another round of protests? A complete year of hullabaloo about the fast protests, Main Anna Hoon, Jail Bharo Andolan, has literally failed to achieve anything – the Congress government is very well present like a monster at the Centre, Jan Lokpal Bill hasn’t been passed, Anna ‘fast till Jan Lokpal bill is passed has failed to stand the ground and corruption is trending with more scams coming to the fore (Coal Block scam is believed to be one of the biggest in India’s history).

People, mostly youth left their homes, offices and schools to join Anna movement last year but at this point in time, without a second thought, one can say that Mr Hazare’s one-day fast will be just another fast in the country. Another side of the coin is that people here forget things very soon and of their house in order, they won’t bother about the outside world – had this not been true, Swami Nigamanand wouldn’t have died quietly on a hospital bed in Haridwar after fasting for 115 days against the illegal mining on the banks of Ganga. Death or 115-day fast weren’t enough for Mr Nigamanand to even feature on the 24x7 news-hungry television channels and Mr Hazare should consider himself lucky, thankfully to the corporate and political interests in his agitation.

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