New Delhi, Apr 8: The protests against corruption spearheaded by social activist Anna Hazare spread to more cities and small towns today, as Chief Ministers of Bihar and Karnataka threw their weight behind the movement.
Thousands of people from all walks of life, including the marginalised classes, thronged the streets to extend their support to social activist Hazare's indefinite fast in his home district of Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, police said. The fast by the 71-year-old Gandhian in New Delhi entered the fourth day today.
Over 3,500 people participated in a march organised by the ‘Alliance of NGOs' in Ahmednagar. The temple town of Shirdi, near Ahmednagar, was also witness to a rally taken out by hundreds of people in support of the anti-corruption crusader.
They also prayed in the famous Sai Baba temple for the quick passage of the Lokpal Bill in the Parliament. Lending his full support to Hazare's campaign, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asserted that it was manifestation of the people's pledge against corruption.
“I have full support to Anna for his campaign against corruption... it is manifestation of people's pledge against corruption”, Kumar told reporters in Patna. “There is widespread resentment, indignation and discontent brewing in the people's mind against corruption”, he said and alleged that a string of corruption had surfaced during the UPA government at the centre and “agitated the people's mind”.
“Anna is receiving overwhelming response”, he said. “Jan Lokpal bill being demanded by Anna has full support from the people”, he said, adding the UPA government should not make it a prestige issue and concede the demand instead of delaying the issue in the name of “constitutional mechanism.” “Constitutional mechanism is not necessary in the present case.... it has full support of people and their sentiments must be respected”, he said apparently referring to the demand for making Hazare chairman of the Jan Lokpal Bill committee.
Citing the case of National Advisory Council (NAC) being headed by Sonia Gandhi to which several NGOs too are representatives, Kumar said the committee comprising the NAC members had drafted the Food Security bill for which preparations were afoot for official notification.
Battling allegations of corruption, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa too extended support to Hazare.
“Time has come for enactment of such a legislation to eradicate corruption in the country,” he said Yeddyurappa, facing charges of nepotism and favouritism in land denotification, demanded that the Centre take immediate steps to bring in a legislation to fight corruption. He has denied all charges.
CPI(ML-Liberation) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya and his partymen sat on a day's fast in Ranchi in support of Hazare. In Aizawl, prominent citizens of Mizoram and anti-corruption activists held a meeting and announced their solidarity with Hazare's crusade. In Ahmednagar, citizens lit candles in Chitale road and also took out a march in the city demanding that the Jan Lokpal Bill be passed as per Hazare's version, police said. In Parner, Hazare's home tehsil, over 5,000 people observed a fast with Shiv Sainiks also participating in it.
Over 300 people held a sit-in in front of the Ahmedabad District Collector's Office and also observed a day long fast. Rallies and fasts were organised across Andhra Pradesh in support of Hazare's campaign. Noted film personalities came to the forefront along with citizens from all walks of life and participated in various programmes in Hyderabad and others districts of the state supporting Hazare's demand.
Renowned lyricist Jonnavittula Ramalingeswara Rao, Telugu filmstars Rana Daggubati and Sivaji, director Sekhar Kammula were among those who participated in relay hunger strikes organised by ‘Youth For Better India' and ‘India Against Corruption' at the Indira Park in Hyderabad.
Students from schools and different colleges also took part in the relay hunger strikes while members of Students Islamic Oganisation of India (Hyderabad unit) held a dharna in support of the anti-corrpution movement. Supporting the crusade against corrpution, scores of youths, housewives, software professionals and advocates took out a massive rally under the banner of National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) from Necklace Road to Jalvihar here.
People holding national flags, placards like ‘We want Jan Lokpal Bill, ‘We want Corruption-free India' also raised slogans in support of Hazare.
Expressing solidarity with Hazare, representatives of different organisations, students among others also undertook signature campaigns, held rallies and formed human chains in Visakhapatnam, Eluru, Rajahmundry, Guntur, Warangal, Tirupati, Anantapur and several other places across Andhra Pradesh. All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) expressed its support to Hazare saying that the anti-corruption initiative taken by him is commendable.
“At a time when corruption is eroding the country, the step taken by Hazare deserves praise, chairman of AIATF Maninderjit Singh Bitta said in Jalandhar. In Jaipur, members of Meena community gave full backign for Hazare's campaign.
In Jammu, various students, social and religious organisations held protest demonstrations. Raising slogans in favour of a strong Lokpal bill, over 300 students of Jammu University held a protest demonstration at the campus. They also took out a march at the campus in support of Hazare.
Shri Ram Sena (SRS) members held demonstrations and decided to launch a “Jail Baro Andholan” to give their full support to Hazare on April 12. Reports from Poonch, Kathua and Kishtwar said that various organisations held protest demonstrations against corruption. PTI