Gandhian and anti-corruption crusader has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not being interested in the appointment of the Lokpal at the Centre. Having hit the road in the run-up to the mega show of strength at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi on March 23, the veteran crusader Anna Hazare says Modi was "never serious about Lokpal".
The reason behind the delay in appointment of a Lokpal, he points out, is because the prime minister is afraid that once this becomes a reality his office, as well as that of his cabinet members, would also come under its purview.
“Panth Pradhan ka office bhi Lokpal ke neeche aa jayega, ye bhay unko satata hai” (The PMO will also come under the ambit of Lokpal and his fear stalks the PM), Hazare said during a free wheeling interview at the VVIP guest house in the state capital.
Sipping hot green tea to fight off the signs of tiredness from his visit to Sitapur, where he addressed a well-attended public rally, the 80-year-old informs that he has written 22 letters to the prime minister in the past four years but has not got a reply to even one. Even as chief minister of Gujarat, Modi tried to cold shoulder the appointment of a Lokayukta in the state, he added.
He cites the section 4 clause 2 of the Lokpal Act wherein it is specifically said that in case the appointment of Lokpal is made with some members of the select panel not being there, it is in principle binding. “This government says there is no leader of opposition hence Lokpal cannot be appointed. This is all hogwash,” Hazare says
Ask him if graft has come down under the watch of Modi and he smiles. “Wo bolta acche hai, isliye bhrastachaar ki baat chup jaati hai par vaisa hai nahin. Aaj bhi aam aadmi bhrastachar se bahut peedit hai” (He (Modi) is a good orator, hence the issue of graft is overshadowed but the reality is that the common man continues to bear the brunt of graft), he says while pointing out how the entire political system was scared of a full-fledged and effective Lokpal.
Having addressed more than 50 rallies since he started the renewed mission from November 22 last year, Hazare bubbles with energy when one mentions how his ‘andolan’ in 2011 had spurred the youth of the nation.
He is quick to inform that thousands of volunteers in the movement this time around too are putting in their whole effort so that the nation could be freed from the clutches of corruption. “If the youth gets up, the fate of the nation will change for good,” he says while pointing out on how his rallies in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, MP, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Haryana in the past few months had garnered immense support of women and the youth.
But how would the movement be different this time around?
“See, the last time we were successful in ensuring that a legislation which was put on the back burner and resisted by the political establishment for so many decades was passed by Parliament. This time we will ensure that it is implemented in letter and spirit, he proclaims as a group of youngsters who have come to meet him and seek his blessings breaks into a spontaneous applause. Broach the name of Arvind Kejriwal and a sadness creases his face. He informs that he had cautioned the Delhi chief minister many a time that he should not “be tempted by power” but he did not pay heed.
Kejriwal, who has many times called Hazare his mentor and guru and he has not spoken for the last many years.
Once bitten twice shy, the octogenarian has now enforced a strict rule that anybody who becomes part of the outfit taking forward the anti-graft crusade will have to sign an affidavit promising no role in active politics. Over 5,000 people have already signed it, informs an aide while adding that in case someone breaches the contract, Anna can take the person to court.
Quoting the teachings of eminent Maharashtrian saint Tukaram, Hazare says the greed of power and attachment can be a great roadblock in national service. “I have not met my biological family for the last 45 years, I lead a simple life, don’t even know what my account holds in terms of savings….my only mission is to see this country free of corruption” he muses.
Ask him if this much travelling doesn’t trouble his ageing bones and he snaps back with a smile. “At 80, I feel younger than many teenagers. It’s all about ‘mann’ (mind and heart)” he says while pointing out how his meals are simple and fast food like burgers are strictly out.
He informs that his day starts with pranayam, followed by sprouts as breakfast and two phulka (roti) and vegetables for lunch. There is no dinner, only fresh fruit juice. He vows that “till my last breath” he will continue his struggle against graft and that he is very optimistic that the ‘Jan Sansad’ (peoples’ parliament) will make this happen. (IANS)