‘I didn’t want to fast in Mumbai, but was forced to do so. My health deteriorated’
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Anna, we don't want you to fast anymore. It is important that you remain healthy for the sake of this country. It is good that you have suspended this strategy of fasting. But why did you do so?
The reason I stopped is because the last time I fasted, my health deteriorated and it took me four or five months to recover. And I believe that my life is not mine any more, it now belongs to this country. And the five months I lost weren't mine but the people's and this country's. If my repeated fasting results in the loss of so much time, then I believe that it is not the right thing to do.
You think it wasn't right to go on a fast so soon? [Anna broke his 13-day fast at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan at the end of August 2011. He went on fast in Mumbai again that December]
No, it wasn't. I even told them that it was too soon to go on a fast and start an agitation, but they had made all preparations, so I was forced to go. My health worsened after that.
Who is 'they'? Who forced you?
By 'they', I mean the Mumbai activists of India Against Corruption. They had organised everything.
Do you think that the arrival of Baba Ramdev led to your movement splitting into two?
No, I do not feel that is correct. I don't think Ramdev Baba is responsible for the split. I never felt that way.
But was your association with Baba Ramdev questioned by your team members? Did they question you on why you were going along with a religious guru?
They never said this to me openly.
Did you feel that he (Ramdev) was very close to the BJP?
Yes, I did feel that a bit, and that is why I didn't go to that meeting where BJP leaders were seen on stage. I did not like that. I said no political party should interfere in this movement; instead, the movement should pressure parties from outside. If they entered our movement, we would no longer be able to pressure them. It is the responsibility of the agitation to channel the power of the people to ensure that parties stay within the limits of good conduct. A people's andolan should remain an andolan. Even when I was an ordinary worker, I never once thought about a panchayat or a zilla parishad election. I even got an offer to contest elections to be an MLA or MP.
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