Anna kindles a spark of hope

He moved rural folk, made them laugh, applaud and cheer all at the same time

Determined to get his answer from the very man who has raised a furore against corruption, Shiva Kumar R (29) hitchhiked all the way from Nelamangala town on Friday morning, on an empty stomach. His question to anti corruption crusader Anna Hazare - "How can the rural masses tackle rampant corruption, which is unfortunately existent in all four pillars of democracy - legislature, executive, judiciary and fourth estate?"

He succeeded in catching Hazare's attention. The Gandhian smiled at him and asked him to "be patient".

"I will starve myself today, as a symbolic representation to the indefinite fast Hazare had undertaken in April. I can't express my happiness on having met him," Shiva Kumar told this newspaper.

Rajesh, who works in a factory in Baragenahalli had ironically paid a bribe of "a few thousand rupees" for availing himself a pahani for his land, at Nelamangala. This, on the very day that Hazare preached to him "neither to receive nor to pay a bribe."

"I came to T Begur when I heard that Anna Hazare was visiting. His speech was very inspiring. But the reality is very different. If I refuse to pay a bribe, my work will never be get done. I have been running around for several days to avail  records for my agriculture land. Every visit to the revenue department has resulted in me shedding a few thousand rupees," he added.

Like Rajesh, the villagers of  Anandnagar, Byadarahalli and T Begur stood transfixed, oblivious to the rains, while Anna Hazare articulated his thoughts on rural development, corruption and his life.

He moved them, made them laugh, applaud and cheer all at the same time. He choked on his words while reciting "Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon".

His message to the youth - adopt the five principles - pure action, pure thinking, sacrifice, enduring humiliation and untainted life, for a fulfilling life. In a lighter vein he warned them not to remain "brahmacharis" "Don't copy me and remain unmarried. It is a very difficult path to tread. Even Vishwamitra slipped for a moment. Instead, marry and raise children who will become the foot soldiers leading our movement against corruption." His plea to the women - "instil good values in your children. That way India will surely be corruption-free in 20 years."

He thundered against the "goonda raj" and the corrupt politicians and babus. "I have taken six wickets of ministers and have sent 400 officials packing home. I have abstained myself from everything including my family. I have been in the army and have taken a bullet. My struggle is till the end. If the government does any hanky panky in passing the Lokpal Bill, I will intensify my movement." He said that T Begur village should become a model village like Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra.

Later talking to the media, Hazare said that he had nothing against Baba Ramdev's parallel movement against corruption, and that he would support the yoga guru.

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