Ahmedabad: Anna Hazare
can't be termed a modern-day Mahatma Gandhi and his fast against
corruption was not a 'satyagraha', says a Gandhian scholar who is
miffed over the comparison between the activist and the Father of
"Gandhi fasted for self-purification. His satyagaraha meant
victory for all. He never fasted to conquer anybody," Dina Ben
Patel told IANS referring to Hazare's fast to make the government
bring in a strong anti-corruption Lokpal Bill.
According to researchers, Gandhi, whose 142nd birth anniversary
was celebrated Sunday, fasted around 25 times during his lifetime.
"Hazare cannot be termed a modern-day Gandhi," Patel said. "Hazare's
fast was not satyagraha."
According to Patel, who carries on her research at the historical
Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati river, Hazare's fast "at
times appeared like a showdown with the government" and "his body
language and strong views presented an aggressive image".
Hazare's August fast at Ramlila ground in the national capital,
which captured the imagination of the country and forced the
parliamentarians to hold a special discussion on Lokpal, was
compared by many with Gandhi's fasts against the British during
Hazare's supporters ensured a giant portrait of Gandhi formed the
backdrop of the stage where he fasted at Ramlila ground. This was
in stark contrast to the poster of Bharat Mata (Mother India) on
the dais during the social activist's earlier April fast at Jantar
According to Patel, the Jan Lokpal bill, drafted by Team Anna,
would require setting up a large bureaucratic structure in the
country under the anti-graft ombudsman. She said Gandhi was always
for decentralising authority.
Citing an instance to indicate that Gandhi's fasts were "nuanced",
Patel said he fasted in 1918 to express solidarity with agitating
Ahmedabad mill workers, who were demanding better wages.
Gandhi went on fast after some of them remarked he did not
understand their problems as he was not the one without food.
Later, when the dispute was settled, Gandhi regretted the mill
owners agreed to the workers' demands out of fear than due to
"Gandhi believed it was not proper to fight a weakened opponent.
He never took advantage of the weakness of others," said Patel.
The many hunger strikes undertaken by Gandhi included giving up
evening meals when someone in his ashram objection to the
admission of a Harijan family Sep 11, 1915 and also protesting
against the partition of the country Aug 15, 1947.
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