Anna Hazare called off his fast and his “Jail Bharo Andolan” (an act of protest that calls for mass voluntary arrest). Instead of three days, Anna fasted for barely a day and a half. His medical team announced that he could suffer kidney failure if he continued. His strategy team probably pointed out to him that, given the poor showing, it made no sense to spend all this money and rent MMRDA grounds. Plus, the whole getting arrested thing turned into a damp squib when the Mumbai Police announced that if Anna would persist with the Jail Bharo Andolan, then as far as the Mumbai Police was concerned, the MMRDA Grounds were a jail. Plus, there was the small matter of the Lok Pal Bill, the reason we’re seeing all this drama, being presented, debated and passed in Parliament. (This version of the Bill isn’t the one Anna and his team want, hence the ruckus. However, as Shashi Tharoor pointed out, our constitution is filled with amendments; the point is to pass the bill so that it exists and can be used to target corruption. Later, if required, amendments may be introduced.) So, all things considered, food seemed like a plan. There was a laughably theatrical set-up during which a member of “Team Anna” begged the old man to break his fast. Anna agreed. He then took the microphone and asked all those who were fasting with him to do the same. A little girl wearing a cap that said “I am Anna” in Hindi was plonked next to him. She was the lucky one who would later give Anna the glass of water that would mark the end of his fast.
Before that grand event, however, there was singing. Two boys sat on stage. One carried an electric guitar. The other wore a hairband, presumably because he thinks that’s cool. They started singing “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram”, which was a favourite of M.K. Gandhi’s. This was supposed to make everyone realise anew that Anna is today’s Gandhi. Never mind the fact that his politics are more Hitler and Mussolini than Gandhi.
Earlier in the evening, Anup Jalota did his version of “Kolaveri di” when he sang “Why this dhokhadari ji?” (Dhokhadari = a deceitful act; something that makes a fool of the other person. I think.) It was, in Twitter-speak, a #FacePalm moment but also beautiful unconscious irony. Anna is staunchly and viciously anti-alcohol. In his “model village” of Ralegaon Siddhi, anyone who drinks is flogged. “Kolaveri” is a song sung by a drunk man to his girlfriend. There’s something rather poetically just about Team Anna having to use a drunkard’s ditty to keep Anna’s supporters from leaving the MMRDA Grounds.