Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption hunger strike of last week resulted in sparking off involvement from around the country. But for Bengaluru, this was not the first major opportunity to hit out The Saaku campaign of December 2010 was an attempt to send a message to the state government. Santosh Hegde’s resignation of June 2010 also sparked an outcry of demonstrations and marches against the government. So much so that Justice Hegde decided to remain is office till the end of his term.
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That was the backdrop for a small but growing group of reform-supporters in Bengaluru when Anna Hazare launched his crusade for the Lok Pal bill last week.
The gathering on April 9th morning at Freedom Park may have been smaller than at the candlelight vigil the previous night. However, it no less intense. Citizens at Freedom Park waited in anticipation, since by 9am it was clear that central government had notified the joint committee for the Lok Pal bill. Freedom Park erupted in celebrations when Anna Hazare ended his fast around 1030am, and the Bangaloreans who were also fasting followed suit and ended theirs.
Through the proceedings that followed, there were songs, speeches, chants and shouts in all three major languages – Kannada, Hindi and English. "Patriotism has no language", said Mahendra Kumar Gandhi, a Rajasthan-origin Bangalorean who spoke both in Hindi and Kannada.
Many parents in the late thirties-early forties brought their children the event. Some children spoke too, and one 11-year-old led an anti-corruption pledge.