Vowing to fight corruption to the bitter end, Anna Hazare today called for giving the government "repeated shocks" to rid the country of the problem and accused the UPA government of being "cunning" and Home Minister "mischievous" or "dishonest", saying that "he has told lies on many occasions".
Back in his village after a 12-day fast in Delhi, Hazare addressed his first public rally where he took the Centre to task for his arrest, lamented the growing divide between the rich and the poor, and asked the youth not to allow the torch of the "second battle of independence" to be extinguished.
Replying to a felicitation by the gram sabha of his village, Hazare repeatedly invoked the spirit of freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh and Rajguru in his speech while paying tribute to the "power of youth".
"We have to give such repeated shocks (to government) to ensure there is a corruption-free India," he stressed.
Lashing out at the Centre, the anti-corruption crusader said, "This government consists of a mob of 'labaad' (cunning) people. They did not allow me to fast and issued prohibitory orders at all the maidans in Delhi. When they gave permission for the JP Park, there were a lot of pre-conditions."
"Chidambaram is 'Khodsal' (Marathi word which means a mischievous or a dishonest person) I call him Khodsal because he has told lies on many occasions," Hazare said.
"After 64 years of independence from the British rule, nothing has changed in this country. The whites have been replaced by black. Loot, corruption and terrorism is rampant. What have we achieved? But now the torch of the second battle of independence has been lit and the way the youth have participated in it is important," Hazare said.
He said the government was not serious about bringing in a strong Lokpal (ombudsman) and accused it of betrayal."from day one".
"We asked the government to bring Jan Lokpal bill in Parliament and said whatever decision Parliament takes will be acceptable, but the government always betrayed us."
Thanking the people for supporting his campaign, he said its success lay in that the entire country stood as one, dissolving barriers of caste, religion and language.
Hazare, who was hailed as the 'Iron man of Ralegan' by speakers at the felicitation, said, "The victory is not mine. The victory is of the people. I am sometimes amazed how so many people across the country could rally behind a person like me who does not have a home...Who just has a bed to sleep on and a plate to eat from."
"The gap and divide between the rich and poor continues to grow and successive governments have never implemented Ambedkar's Constitution in totality," he said.
Noting that decentralisation of power was necessary for bringing "true democracy", he said it will help curb corruption. "There is corruption because all power is concentrated in Mantralaya," he said and demanded more powers for the gram sabha.
"Gram Sabha is higher than the Legislative Assembly and Parliament. People's Parliament is bigger than Parliament in Delhi," he said.
"There is exploitation everywhere. The land is being exploited....Water and oil is being exploited. What will we leave behind for future generations?" Hazare wondered.
Asking the youth not to feel "tired in mind", he said, "If Bhagat Singh and his friends had allowed their minds to be tired, we would not have got our freedom."
"I don't fear death because I have not forgotten Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev and I am one in mind with them. I will prefer to embrace death in the service of nation to dying from heart attack," Hazare said.
Asking the youth to be prepared to fill the jails whenever such a call was made on pro-people issues, he said "You will get breakfast and two meals in jail. Going to jail for a cause is not something to be ashamed of but one should feel proud of it."
Hazare's speech was preceded by a musical programme where artists sang patriotic songs, including the Gandhian's favourite 'Dil diya hain jaan bhi denge, aye watan tere liye', which he often referred to during his Ramlila Maidan fast.
Chants of 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' rent the air as a frail-looking but relaxed Hazare enjoyed the music, often swinging his head and tapping his legs with fingers.
A public feast of laddoos and puri-sabzi was arranged for around 10,000 people who descended on the village from outside.