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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

With a dig at PM Modi, Anna Hazare begins fast to demand Lokpal, Lokayuktas

Alleging that the Modi government is making excuses for not appointing a Lokpal, Anna Hazare sat on indefinite fast at a Maharashtra village.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2019 12:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Activist Anna Hazare began his indefinite fast at Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra to push for appointment of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states.
Activist Anna Hazare began his indefinite fast at Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra to push for appointment of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states.(Photo: Twitter/@ANI)
         

A day after he took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over delay in appointment of a Lokpal, anti-graft activist Anna Hazare on Wednesday began his indefinite fast at Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra. Hazare said the Modi government has been “making excuses” for not setting up a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states.

“No party wants it. Lokpal (Bill) was passed in Parliament in 2013 but the government is yet to appoint it,” news agency ANI quoted Hazare as saying while launching his fast. Hazare has been campaigning for a Lokpal that can investigate allegations of corruption against all public office holders including the prime minister and Lokayuktas in states that can probe graft charges against all including the chief minister.

Announcing on Tuesday that he would launch an indefinite fast from January 30, Hazare had taken a dig at PM Modi saying, “It has been five years now but the Prime Minister Modi-led government at the Centre is making excuses. If they wanted, they could have done the needful by now.”

Hazare said, “Through Lokpal, even the prime minister can be investigated if people give any evidence against him...Similarly, a chief minister and all ministers and MLAs under him can be investigated by a Lokayukta if anyone gives evidence against them. That’s why they don’t want it.”

“To restrict Lokpal, they passed another law within three days, got President’s signature also on it. But to appoint Lokpal, they have taken five years and nothing has been done. We don’t want political leaders with us on stage,” Hazare said.

The activist, who is a self-proclaimed Gandhian, decided to begin his fast on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi which is also observed as Martyr’s Day. The politicians belonging to any party would not be allowed to join his fast, Hazare said. “We don’t want political leaders with us on stage,” he said.

According to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, a Lokpal would be set up at the central level as an ombudsman. The office of Lokayukta would function on the same line states.

The matter of Lokpal is also being heard in the Supreme Court, which in July 2018, had expressed its displeasure over non-appointment of Lokpal. Two months later, in September, the government appointed a Search Committee to nominate the chairperson and members of the Lokpal. Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai of the Supreme Court was nominated as chairperson of the committee.

The apex court asked the Search Committee earlier this month to complete the task of shortlisting the names of possible candidates for appointment as Lokpal by the end of February. The matter comes up for hearing in the Supreme Court on March 7.