After 4,000 blows, low-key JD(U) leader Anil Hegde has last laugh

On March 1, 1994, Anil Hegde, then in his early 30s, was among a handful of Janata Dal workers detained by Delhi Police for violating Article 144 outside Parliament.

Over the next 14 years, Heigd would continue to be held in court “more than 4,000 times”, as he would diligently attend, along with some of his fellow party workers, in the high-security area to protest global trade policies that had been pushed by then. GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) Director General Arthur Dunkel.

Cut to May 2022. Leader Hegde, 62, a long-term aide to the late socialist advocate George Fernandez, is Everything is ready for running for the Rajya Sabha of Bihar After he was nominated by Prime Minister Nitish Kumar led by JD(U), a branch of Janata Dal.

“During the protest, which lasted for more than 5,100 days until 2008, our workers filed for detention (outside Parliament or in Jantar Mantar) daily. Except for several times, when I had to travel to other states for work, I used to get arrested daily. The police literally used to wait for us to arrive. For our detention and transfer to Parliament Street Police Station,” Hegde told the Indian Express.

Knowing that his claim might provoke disbelief, Heigd was quick to add with a laugh that he kept meticulous records of his arrests during that entire period. Hegde, a native of Udupi district of Karnataka state, started his political journey as a young Janata Party worker when he was at Mangalore College several decades ago.

Hegde quickly caught the attention of party leader MP Prakash. “Ramakrishna Hegde and S. R. Bhumi, father of the current Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bhumi, were seconded directors in quick succession. As Organizing Secretary for the State Party Unit, I led a team that scanned newspapers daily and set up fact-finding missions about atrocities against marginalized and Dalits. In many Sometimes, it was embarrassing for our government but we insisted.”

He contacted Fernandez during the latter’s frequent trips to Bangalore. Young people working in the party tried to get his attention by handing him visiting cards. George was collecting them. But later, at party meetings, he would tell them that the party worker should be identified from among the working class, artisans and peasants for their struggles and movements, and not by visiting cards,” he said.

Higd’s ties to Fernandez deepened in 1993, when the latter launched an incitement against Cargil INC, an American multinational that was setting up a massive salt-processing facility in the coastal town of Kandla in Gujarat. “I was stationed in Gandhinagar and Kandla and coordinated protests as people came from all over the country (to join them),” he recalls.

Hegde’s successful direction of the agitation earned him accolades, and Fernandez would have asked him to lead the movement against Dunkel-GATT policies. He said, “The decision to release Satyagraha on the Jat issue, which was our daily arrests outside Parliament and later in Jantar Mantar, was taken on January 20, 1994, in the Mavalankar Hall of the Constitution Club of India.”

During 1994-2008, Hegde remained closely associated with Fernandez and used to stay at his official residence in Krishna Menon Marg. Fernandez was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007. As disputes erupted in the Fernandez family over his care between estranged wife Laila Kabir and close friend Jaya Jaitley, Hegde moved to JD(U)’s office in Delhi, before moving to Patna. Fernandez passed away in January 2019.

Hegde has been based in Bihar for more than 12 years, staying at JD(U) office in Patna. He has been the party’s national return officer, handling organizational elections and membership motivations among other responsibilities. My father was an advocate and my family was a gardener. But I was drawn to socialist politics very early in my life. “I never missed any fliers,” said Hegde, who wore only sandals and hand-woven khadi clothes, like his mentor Fernandez.

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