Mumbai: Within an hour of Anna Hazare begining his three-day fast, his prominent supporters Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi on Tuesday appealed to him to end the hunger strike taking into consideration his ill health but the activist remained adamant on continuing his protest.

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"He has fever, let us request him to stop his fast. Anna can continue his dharna," Bedi said addressing supporters at the MMRDA ground where Hazare was sitting on fast.
   
The 74-year-old activist was suffering from viral infection and his personal assistant Suresh Pathare had been insisting that Hazare was well and he will be sitting on fast. "Anna is unwell. Will you request Anna to withdraw his fast?" Bedi asked the crowd, which responded with a loud "Yes". However, Hazare, looking quite under the weather, waved his hand in a gesture of "No".
   
Kejriwal and another close aide Manish Sisodia also requested Hazare to end his fast. Hazare, who has been suffering from cold and mild fever for the past three days, reached the grounds at around 12:30 PM after a rally from the guest house where he was staying to the ground which took over two-and-half hours.
   
"He is a little weak as of now, but will be fit to fast from Wednesday. His blood pressure and other vital parameters are normal. He has got a little cough and cold but he is getting better," his doctor D G Pote had said on Monday.
   
The activist has been under medication for the past three days, he said.

Anna fasts for strong Lokpal as Lok Sabha debates bill

Amidst cheering supporters, Anna Hazare on Tuesday began his three-day fast here in protest against a "weak" Lokpal Bill even as Lok Sabha initiated a debate on the proposed law.

Hazare, who is suffering from a viral infection, arrived at the MMRDA grounds in Bandra Kurla Complex of suburban Mumbai along with his close aides Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia to a thunderous applause and slogans of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Vande Matram'.

Hazare began his fast shouting slogans of 'Vande Matram' and 'inqilab zindabad'.

The 74-year-old activist reached the venue after paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Juhu Beach while on his way in a rally, which took two-and-half hours to reach the ground, passing through Santacruz, Tulip Star Hotel, Mithibai College, S V Road, Vile Parle, Khar and Bandra Highway.

Hazare travelled in a decorated open truck from the guest house to MMRDA grounds waving tricolour and a number of people were seen waiting to greet him on the streets.

However, there was high drama on way as around 20 men blocked his convoy and showed him black flags. The convoy of Hazare, on way to Mahatma Gandhi's statue on Juhu beach, was briefly stopped by the protesters carrying black flags and national tricolour and shouting "Anna Hazare murdabad".

In Delhi, Lok Sabha started a discussion on the bill. However, Team Anna's protest elicited a lukewarm response with supporters blaming the winter chill and absence of Anna Hazare for the low turnout at Ramlila Maidan.

The protest relay fast in Delhi was scheduled to start at 10 AM but it started only 90 minutes later as the crowd was not as huge as witnessed during the earlier agitation when Hazare was at the centre stage.

The leader of the protest in Delhi Shanti Bhushan himself came to the podium at 10:30 AM though another Team Anna member and his son Prashant Bhushan was at the venue before explaining to media persons about the protest and the delayed start.

Hazare wass supposed to sit on a fast here but the venue was changed taking into consideration the weather in the capital. The activist is staging a three-day fast in Mumbai.

Prashant blamed the chilly and foggy weather for the low turnout in the morning. "I am sure people will come here as well. It is a cold day, foggy day on Tuesday. It will take sometime for people to turn up. They will come, don't worry," he said.

Activist Gopal Rai said winter and probably the absence of Hazare may be the reason for the low turnout but expressed hope that more people will come.

Explaining the need for protest, Prashant said the Bill in its present form is unacceptable. Protest will continue as well as jail bharo agitation, he added.

Team Anna has raised the pitch on Monday by pointing out "four non-negotiable" demands for calling off their jail bharo agitation which included provision for an independent investigating agency for the anti-corruption ombudsman.

In Mumbai, police have fortified the fast venue by deploying 2000 police constables and 200 sub-inspectors of police, six platoons of state reserve force, three Quick Response Team and two Bomb Detection and Disposal Squads.

The ground has six emergency exits, 16 fire extinguishers, six metal detector units and round-the-clock ambulance services.

Supporters believe Hazare will relieve them from corruption

Supporters of Anna Hazare gathered here to participate in the three-day fast for a strong Lokpal believe the anti-graft activist will help rid the country of corruption.

Ashwini and Arti from Powai said, "We principally agree with what Anna says...So coming here was our way of expressing support and solidarity." The two women do not plan to stay overnight but will return on Wednesday.

Those from outside Mumbai like Manoharlal Chaurasia from Bhopal, who will fast with Hazare, says he would be backing the Gandhian fully for a strong Janlokpal.

"He wants the CBI and PM to be under Lokpal. I am fed up with corruption. I had to pay bribe to lawyers and judges and police. When I heard Anna, I felt he was voicing my feelings," he said.

Vijay Pulaste and Satyanarayan Panchal, who have come from Haryana, Sunil Arya and Nano Varma from Delhi, do not want Hazare to plunge into politics.

"We are impressed with the 'tyag aur samarpan' (renunciation and dedication) of Anna. We believe in the 'Rananiti' (strategy) of Kejriwal and leadership of Anna," said Pulaste.

Panchal said people were disillusioned with the Parliament because it was not heeding 'Lokbhavna' (public sentiment). "If people's sentiments are not respected, they will be forced to look for other alternatives," said Sunil.

(Agencies)