Posted on 01 September 2011
In an act of symbolism, a Dalit youth is invited to conduct the first
day's prayer in Anna's 'clean' village
Nikhil M Ghanekar
A Dalit youth named Mahendra Gaikwad is going to take centre stage in
Ralegan Siddi, now better known as Jan Lokpal activist Anna Hazare's
village. Following the accusations and various media reports against
Anna Hazare for being non-inclusive in his Jan Lokpal Bill fast, the
village head along with senior villagers decided to ask Gaikwad
conduct the auspicious first day prayer of the Ganesh Chaturthi
Speaking to TEHELKA, Ralegan sarpanch Marpari said, "There have been
baseless accusations against Anna about neglecting the backward
communities during his protest. But, in Ralegan we have always worked
for the progress of the backward communities and minorities. Hence, a
Dalit youth Mahendra Gaikwad has been handed over the right to conduct
the first big prayer of this year's festival."
Marpari also added, "Tomorrow is the big day. Anna will address a gram
sabha which has been converted to a Mahasabha. He will address the
people on the reasons for his fast, the entire machinations of the
protest for the Jan Lokpal Bill and his experiences."
Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare was discharged from Medanta
Medicity hospital in Gurgaon late in the evening on Wednesday. As
Hazare arrived at Ralegan Siddhi, Ahmednagar district early on
Thursday morning, his fellow villagers had already started the grand
According to locals in Ralegan, around 25,000 people from surrounding
villages and media thronged their village. Hazare rested at the
Padmavati Mandir for the better part of the day. The villagers under
the leadership of village sarpanch Jaisingh Mapari have also organised
a feast for the visitors.
Pramod, a Ralegan resident said that in spite of Hazare's arrival
people have been busy in their chores because during the 13 days of
his fast, work suffered tremendously.
Pramod Kamble, an idol-maker, known across Maharashtra has made a
special 'Anna idol' for this year's Ganpati festival. The idol sports
an Anna topi and also has his eyes.
Nikhil M Ghanekar is a Correspondent with Tehelka.com.
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