Apparently recharged by 19 days of silence (maun vrat), social activist Anna Hazare on Friday was back doing what has, over the last few months, catapulted him from an obscure social activist to an icon — pushing for a “strong” Lokpal bill to curb corruption in public life.
Addressing the media at Maharashtra Sadan after breaking his fast at Rajghat, Hazare, who was in Delhi to appear before the parliamentary panel examining the Lokpal bill, warned the Congress that he would campaign against it in the forthcoming assembly elections in five states unless the Lok Sabha passes a strong Lokpal bill during its winter session beginning November 22.
The social activist, who returned to the capital for the first time since his 12-day fast at the Ramlila Maidan in August, said: “I will ask people: what is the benefit of re-electing Congressmen. Let them say whatever they want. I will go and ask them not to vote for the Congress if the Jan Lokpal bill is not passed,” he said.
Asked whether this meant he would campaign for the BJP, Hazare — who was regularly tweeting his views on a variety of subjects during his vow of silence — replied: “I won't campaign for BJP. There is no difference between the BJP and the Congress as one is a graduate in corruption while the other has a doctorate.” He did not specify which party, in his opinion, was better qualified in this regard.
Hazare reminded the Congress that its candidate had lost his security deposit in the Hisar Lok Sabha byelection as a result of his team's campaign against it. The party will meet a similar fate in other elections if it did not accept his demand, he added.
But this playing to gallery left many unimpressed. “Holding the government to ransom is not done. Though his demand is correct, his means are questionable,” said Bita Vohra, 58, an employee at a cargo agency.
The veteran social activist attacked the union government on Thursday’s petrol price increase, alleging a “nexus” between central government and the (public sector) oil companies!
Commenting on his meeting with the parliamentary panel, Hazare said: “It was a good meeting. Following the discussion, it appears some solution, though not a complete solution, will be found. MPs in the committee have assured us that the bill will be introduced in the winter session,” Hazare said.
He said if the Jan Lokpal bill is not passed, he will fast for three days from the last day of winter session of Parliament and then will go on a nation-wide tour.