Social activist Anna Hazare on Tuesday dared the Centre to arrest him if he were anti-national, hitting back at the prime minister’s office (PMO) within days of two Union ministers hinting at foreign backing and funding for his anti-corruption movement.
“It is wrong to call me anti-national. The government says I am a traitor. If I am, then put me in jail,” he said, slamming allegations made by V Narayanasamy, minister of state in the PMO.
On June 9, Narayanasamy had alleged Hazare was “surrounded by anti-national elements” and people “supported by foreign forces”.
A day later, Vayalar Ravi, the minister for overseas Indian affairs, had accused US-based groups of backing Hazare's movement and suspected a “conspiracy to destabilise Indian politics”.
“They are making baseless allegations to divert the attention of the people from the real issue of lokpal (anti-corruption watchdog) bill,” Hazare told mediapersons at his village, Ralegan Siddhi, 250 km from Mumbai.
Targeting Narayanasamy's statement, he said, “It is shameful that these baseless allegations are being made by the topmost office in the country.”
He asked the Centre to name the foreign powers "funding" his movement.
Hazare said, "The government has failed to pass the lokpal bill despite a Parliament resolution and written assurance by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh."
He said claims that existing laws were strong enough to tackle corruption were wrong.
"After 65 years of Independence, we still follow laws enacted by the British. The government has no willpower to curb corruption and make the law to stop it."
On the coal block allocation controversy, Hazare said he did not believe the PM or his family took money, but added there would be “no smoke without fire”.
He wondered if the PM was “not seeing the smoke”.
He said it was clear from the CAG report that there was a huge loss and somebody had benefited. “Who are they?”
(With agency inputs)