Faizabad: Team Anna put up a rather action-packed show at Faizabad—home to the Ayodhya assembly seat—its third such in the state after it kicked off its voter-awareness drive in election-bound UP in Barabanki on Thursday.
Kiran Bedi’s star appeal managed to attract a crowd of about 1,000 people that included local residents, many members from India Against Corruption (IAC), school and college students and quite a few curious onlookers who watched from the margins.
Arriving in an Innova with Anna team member Manish Sissodia, Kiran Bedi, dressed in an orange salwar kameez and a red jacket, didn’t seem disappointed with the turnout. On stage, she used her camera phone to capture images of the crowds.
Wiping out crime. Pallavi Polanki/Firstpost
Given the Faizabad’s proximity to Ayodhya, there was heavy security presence—about 200 police and CISF personnel—at the ground.
Steering clear of any direct or indirect reference to political parties or specific politicians, Kiran Bedi stuck to her stated agenda of raising voter awareness, specifically the voter’s right to reject.
“We have been voting irresponsibly up until now,” said Bedi, addressing the rally. “When a candidate with criminal record is voted to power, whose fault is it?”
Relating an incident from the Fatepur rally in Barabanki the day before, Bedi spoke of a letter she received from a member of the crowd. The letter, she said, asked if it was possible to file cases of fraud and cheating against politicians who fail to fulfill their election promises.
“It can happen only on one condition. It won’t work if just one person goes, if the entire constituency goes to the police station and demands that their FIR be registered against their MLA for cheating and betraying the people with false promises, it can work.”
In a speech that was not short on theatrics, Bedi had all members of the crowd up on their feet to take an oath. Asking the crowd to repeat after her, she said, “This time I will vote only for an honest candidate. I will not vote on the basis of caste or religion. I will not be taken in by inducements. I will vote as a patriotic Indian and for the development of the state. I also take the oath that henceforth I will neither give nor take bribe.”
Bedi then went to inform the people of the provision of right to reject. “What happens when there is no honest candidate? You have an option. Go to the presiding officer and show him your voter ID so that he knows you have come to cast your vote. Ask for the ‘o’ form. The election rule 49 (o) states that if you don’t like a candidate, you don’t have to press the button on the voting machine but can go to the presiding officer and ask for a form where you can cast your vote and reject all candidates.”
Bedi said the right to reject was Team Anna’s next big campaign. “Before the next general election, this will be Anna’s next campaign. Will you join us? Will you support Right to Reject?” she asked, to which the crowd came back with a resounding ‘yes’.
An open forum with the MLA every three months, Bedi told the crowd, would make politicians answerable to the public. “Tell your MLA, you have questions about the promises he made to you. When 200-300 people are present, the MLA will have to answer you.”
Having signed a couple of autographs of those who had got on stage to meet her, she made a quick exit, giving the both the media and the mob of people around her car, the slip.
She and Sissodia headed to their next rally in Basti.