And it was General VK Singh who gave Anna Hazare, Kejriwal a glass of coconut water to break his fast.
Much like a film, there were credits announced at the end saying how important each of the activists were.
6:25 pm: Most of Team Anna that has been on the hunger strike is still waiting for Hazare to finish his speech so that they can break their hunger fast but he’s still going strong.
“When someone criticises you then you should accept it and take it in your stride,” Hazare said.
He urged people to ensure that the government spent more on policy than on maintaining itself.
Our elected representatives will only take enough money to travel to work and that’s it, Hazare said, adding that they would not take any other money from the government. He’s also very certain he will not contest elections.
“I will stay outside and if they commit errors then I will hold them by the ears,” he said.
6:15 pm:Anna Hazare continues his speech against politicians, endorsing a spartan existence and giving advice on why people should not stay in hotels.
“I have been fighting against these goondas (politicians) for the last 30 years,” he said.
Hazare said people had even been sent to kill him in the past but they failed.
“To be an Anna Hazare you have to make a lot of sacrifice,” Hazare said, adding that he has never stayed in a hotel and urges people to do the same to follow in his footsteps. The hospitality industry will be hoping too many of his followers don’t follow his instructions.
Hazare urged his followers to live a spartan life and make sacrifices. “It is not enough that only we (Team Anna) make sacrifices, all of you should make sacrifices,” he said.
“People who dont make sacrifices, they are the ones who are destroyed,” Hazare said. It’s reasonably safe to say that this speech of Anna was not scripted, as some of his critics have claimed.
6:10 pm: Hazare refuses to speak about what role he’ll play in the new political party and speaks instead on corruption and how to combat it.
“I am sure the people will think about bringing about change and will send these corrupt people home,” Hazare said.
We are not seeking anything for ourselves, he said.
He’s still confident that if the Lokpal comes about it will not completely eliminate corruption but will reduce it greatly.
Its almost like this is a goodbye speech by Anna Hazare. What role will the anti-corruption crusader play in the new political party apart from being a figurehead?
6:00 pm: Anna Hazare said he had been on many hunger strikes and never broke one by taking the first morsel from a minister.
“I am very happy that General VK Singh came here to break our fast,” he said.
The fight will continue for a long time to come, Hazare said.
“The system must be changed and that is why the battle is on,” he said. It seems rather evident that Hazare has no interest in the political party that Kejriwal is planning. Is this the official change from Team Anna to Team Arvind?
“I have no interest in any political party,” Hazare said.
5:55 pm: The political scenario within the nation should change within the next three years, Kejriwal said.
And then curiously enough he launched into song. Despite claims of being a bad singer, it must be said the anti-corruption activist isn’t too bad. Especially given he’s been on a hunger strike for over a week.
5:50 pm: Kejriwal appeals to the youth in particular to join their movement and agitate for their demands.
“If you think that the Congress can ensure the future of the nation then stay with the party, otherwise join us,” he said, to cheers from the audience.
And if you thought he was being anti-Congress he said the same request went to the youth cadre in parties like BJP also.
“We don’t have any money….We will rely on money from the people to contest in the elections,” he said.
If we also rely on money to win elections and we will have to contest elections without money power but with people power, he said.
“If we have the support of the people then we should contest elections otherwise we should sit at home,” he said.
5:47 pm: Kejriwal promises secularism within the country and says it is political parties that have divided the nation on religious lines.
“I want to tell the Congress that if in the next two years if they can bring about the right to reject in elections, the Lokpal Bill and other demands of ours then we will not participate in politics,” he said.
The anti-corruption activist also asked people for their suggestions on what the party’s name should be, how candidates are to be chosen and all other details.
“If you want to join the cadre of our party write to us and let us know,” he said.
5:45 pm: “There will be no high command in our party, people will select their own candidates,” Kejriwal said.
We don’t want to win election, we want to challenge the existing parties, he said.
Kejriwal spoke of the various problems people face across the country including costly nurseries, hospitals that fail to provide adequate treatment.
“Every village will be independent and will make its own decisions which will benefit them,” he said. Sounds Gandhian in belief and while idealistic doesn’t really go into the details of what really will be done. But then everything about this political party seems to be a work in progress.
5:40 pm: Kejriwal says their party will be completely different from other political parties by being more transparent and democratic in its working.
“Every donation made will be documented and we will force other political parties to do the same,” he said.
He spoke about addressing land acquisition issues, creating a manifesto based on people’s views. Seems like Team Anna have been getting a manifesto ready for some time now.
Is there a name for the party yet though?
5.30pm: A visibly weaker Kejriwal took the stage after General Singh and chose to sit and deliver his speech instead of standing. After congratulating all those present for being a part of the movement, Kejriwal formally announced that today marks the second phase in the movement’s struggle against corruption. “The movement enters its second orbit today. During my fast I felt the pain of thousands of villagers in the country”, he said.
Kejriwal also spoke of the government betrayal in not giving the people of the country a Lokpal bill. “We thought that of people come on the streets, the government would give us Lokpal, We were sure that the government would give us Lokpal, But it did not happen. They know that the day they pass Jan Lokpal, they will go to jail”.
5.20pm: General Singh has accused the government of not following the directive principles of state policy as written in the constitution. “If they had done so, the government would have been in better shape”, he said.
The former Army Chief also appealed to the people to join hands to end corruption. “All you have the power to change the society. With that magic wand, you have to end corruption”, he said.
He ends by appealing to people to look beyond corruption. He ends with a strident cheer of “Bharat Mata ki jai” and the crowd goes mad.
5.15pm: The former Army Chief says “rampant corruption” is the country’s biggest problem. “We are facing problems of inflation and economic slowdown. It appears that there is no governance in the country. The only alternative we have is the one offered by Anna Hazare. Every time you fight the powers that be, they will try to dent the image of the movement”, he said.
This is a fairly strong statement from the former Army Chief, especially on the back of a letter that the defence minister reportedly wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh detailing discontent in the armed forces. Is this a stronger indication?
5.06pm: Former Army Chief General VK Singh steps up to address the crowds at Jantar Mantar to a rockstars welcome. The General also congratulates Team Anna on their decision to start a political movement, and said it was vital that Team Anna got involved in the big fight of changing electoral politics in the country.
“For the last 16 months, all of you participated in the Jan Lokpal movement. I thank you”, he added.
4.50pm: Yogendra Yadav takes the stage following Rai’s speech and begins his speech by congratulating Team Anna for announcing an alternative political movement. “This is not a safe passage they have taken. Team Anna knew very well that the government would not fulfill their demands. They were not surprised when they did not hear from the government”, he said.
Yadav also said that the announcement did not mean that Team Anna was meandering. The decision to offer a political alternative is the logical next step of the movement”, he said, adding that Team Anna has brought a ray of positive energy to counter a largely negative atmosphere.
“In democracy people should always make an attempt to push out corrupt elements and that is what Team Anna has tried to do”, he said.
However Yadav is also under no illusions that the task ahead of the team is a massive one. “It is a long and tough battle ahead. We have to maintain our enthusiasm for a long time to come. There will be many things you will have to explain to people when contesting elections”, he said.
He also had words of advice for Team Anna, saying that the Team would also have to deal with people questioning the credibility of the party and asking how it was different from other parties. “Team Anna should not rush to find answers to such uncomfortable questions”, he said, adding, “Your success will be decided by how much you will change other political parties”.
4.42pm: A fiery Gopal Rai has begun addressing the crowds at Jantar Mantar. Giving no indication that he has been fasting for ten days, Rai has the crowd fired up. “The battle is not for a Lokpal but to bring a people’s government to the country”, he said to general applause and cheering.
“After our electoral victory all the 15 ministers who we have accused of corruption will be sent to jail”, he said.
“Prospective MPs will have to take only a quarter of their present salary, only then they will be accepted for the movement”, he added.
4.26pm: Team Anna member Manish Sisodia who was on a nine day fast along with Arvind Kejriwal and Gopal Rai, has said that the movement’s decision to enter the political arena was made because they realized that the government was deaf to the appeal of the citizens of the country.
“My team members had just two options – to evict the venue, or to shift the movement from the streets to Parliament. We opted for the latter”, he said.
However Sisodia is clearly under no illusions that the way ahead will be easy. “The road ahead is much harder than the one we’ve been on for months. We need to stop focusing on religion and caste in this battle”, he said.
4.21pm: Congress spokesman Manish Tewari says that while Team Anna’s fast was essentially about the Lokpal, it is now complete hollow in substance. “Their allegations are not backed by evidence”, he said.
In terms of the movement’s decision to offer the public a political alternative he said, “It was Team Anna’s decision to fast, and it is their decision to form a political party. What do I say?” He added that the “more political parties in India, the merrier it is”
4.02pm: Fasting Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia a Gopal Rai have arrived on stage along with Anna Hazare. Former Army chief General VK Singh also got to the venue a short while ago.
Earlier today Prashant Bhushan announced that the fasting team members would break their fast with the former Army chief offering them coconut water or lemon juice. “VK Singh, who exposed corruption in the army, will arrive at Jantar Mantar at 4pm and offer water to the fasting members shortly after that, Bhushan said.
Meanwhile Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also welcomed Team Anna’s decision to offer people an alternative political choice, saying that it was a natural right for anyone to form a political party and enter the democratic process.
3.40pm: Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh welcomed Team Anna’s decision to join politics and said, “I am very happy at their decision, I welcome them.”
He said that he always wanted Team Anna to join politics to understand the system and be in the politicians’ shoes.
However, throwing a challenge to Team Anna, he said, “Till now they have only been accusing us, now they must get ready to be at the receiving end.”
On being asked about Baba Ramdev‘s agitation against black money, Singh said that it’s not easy to get back black money. “You have to be in the system to understand how difficult it is”.
3.20pm: Continuing its tirade against Team Anna for stating that it is considering a political alternative, the Congress today said that Team Anna members had always wanted to be in power.
“Congress has been continuously saying for the past one year that Anna (Hazare) and his team is interested in politics and they always wanted to be in power,” Congress leader and Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan told reporters.
3.00pm: Doctors supervising the health of Arvind Kejriwal, Gopal Rai and Manish Sosodia believe that the three can fast for three more days without facing any serious health implications.
Continuous fasting leads to an increase in the bodies ketone levels which can have a negative impact on the kidneys. Kejriwal is a diabetic and is more prone to ketone formation during fasting.
However, the ketone of all three social activists Anna have not crossed the danger mark despite them fasting for nine days.
Doctors monitoring the health of Team Anna members and other anshankaris say that by creating favourable conditions, it is possible to keep ketone levels in control.
“Ketone level increases when there is an increase in calorie requirement. Since Kejriwal and others are not doing any physical activility and remain silent for most of the day, their bodies do not require calories,” said Dr Atul Kumar Gupta, consultant anaestheologist & intensivist, a member of the team of doctors at Jantar Mantar.
Regular intake of water dilutes the ketone level in the body, said Dr Gupta, challenging the reports which have questioned the science behind Team Anna’s fasting. “I can debate this methodology of fasting at any medical forum,” he added,
Kejriwal and his aides spend time in enclosures of a temperature between 28 and 30 degrees celsius and drink boiled water which, according to doctors, boost energy during fasting.
2.30pm: Activist Manish Sisodia said the ball was now in the people’s court to ensure that Team Anna’s fight against corruption was taken to Parliament. “It will happen by forming a party or with the help of individuals or some other way will emerge. People are sending their suggestions. The bottomline is that this mission needs to be taken to Parliament from streets,” Sisodia said.
2.10pm: Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal says he welcomes Team Anna’s decision to enter the political stream because it meant that they finally understood the difficulty of passing laws, and the fact that you needed to be in parliament to do it.
“I am glad. All this time they thought laws could be made from Jantar Mantar” said a scathing Sibal to the Times Now television channel.
“The only way to pass the laws you want is to fight an election and come to Parliament, and the only way to fight an election is to join a political party or form one. If they get voted, they can bring in the bill they want”, he added.
Sibal added that it was crucial for Team Anna to be in the public domain, and have their decisions scrutinized openly. “Nobody should have the privilege to say, “I am clean and you’re corrupt”. This kind of politics wont work in India”, he said.
1.59pm: Social activitst Medha Patkar has said that Team Anna has a long and difficult road ahead of it, to ensure that any momentum the movement gained is not lost because of an entry into a political movement.
“One has to ensure that people who are awakened remain so and one has to think a 100 times before taking a plunge into electoral politics. If he joins politics, then the momentum gained should not be lost. When people with noble intentions join politics, either they don’t last long or they don’t achieve much,” she said.
1.52pm: Team Anna today said its political alternative will not compromise on corruption, stating that their their fight was for changing the system and not for obtaining power.
“Anna is a hero of people. How long he can remain deaf to the voice of people? He has taken a decision to challenge the political class,” a statement posted on the India Against Corruption website said.
“Now Team Anna is ready to enter the battlefield of politics. Now Team Anna is ready to enter the battleground to take on government. Anna has said that he will not dilute his beliefs. The political alternative that will come up will not compromise on corruption. This fight is not for changing power but changing the system,” it said.
The statement added that the alternative had been necessitated also because political parties continue to say that Anna and his supporters will not be able to win elections.
“Team Anna has sounded the bugle to enter the political battlefield and take on political parties. Now people have to take a decision whether the corrupt system will continue to exploit you or support a right alternative,” it said.
1.13pm: Swami Agnivesh is in complete disagreement with Team Anna’s decision to form a political alternative. Speaking to ABP News, Agnivesh said “Team Anna has made a joke of the agitation”, adding that the team should apologise to the nation.
Agnivesh’s comments were followed by Baba Ramdev, who said that the decision must have been made after a lot of thought, adding that he would speak to Anna about it.
1:00 pm: Prashant Bhushan has just announced that Retired Army chief general VK Singh to arrive at jantar mantar at 4pm and will be around for an hour, until the political party is announced.
Firstpost’s Danish Raza says crowds have drastically reduced after Team Anna’s announcement of a political alternative. There are around 2000 people at jantar mantar today.
Anna supporters say that more people will come during evening when fast will be broken. Anna Hazare is also meeting anshankaris.
12.50pm: BJP President Nitin Gadkari has pledged that the BJP will help Team Anna in its fight against corruption. “We support anyone who’s against corruption, be it Anna Hazare or Baba Ramdev. If Anna seeks out support, we will help”, said Gadkari to the NDTV news channel.
Gadkari added that Anna Hazare was a social activist and not a politician.
12.40pm: Prashant Bhushan, addressing the crowds at Jantar Mantar has said that the Team was left with no other option, although they knew that the ‘path’ they had chosen to follow was very difficult.
“We had no intention to enter into politics, but we make this announcement out of compulsion. We have a government which will not do anything even if people come out and protest”, he said.
Bhushan also said that an electoral revolution was the need of the hour. “We have to get into the dirt to change the nation. History will not forgive us if we don’t take this step now. We don’t have money and resources. All we have is people’s support”, he said.
12.25pm: Team Anna activist Kiran Bedi has said she is still unsure if Team Anna’s announcement to provide the people with a political alternative would translate to the formation of a political party.
“It’s too early to say if a political party will be formed” said Bedi in an interview with the Times Now television channel, adding that the announcement was not an exit strategy. She said the primary objective of the movement would be to help identify good ethical people so they can make it to politics. “Once they have been identified, Anna will give them all the support they need to get a large voter base”, she said.
Bedi added that not all Team members would go political.
She also said that Anna’s equation with Ramdev remained unchanged.
Team Anna yesterday announced that it would end its ongoing fast at 5pm on Friday, and concentrate on offering people a viable political alternative, with a focus on ending corruption.