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Anna hits out at Modi on 'undemocratic' land ordinance, says will launch bigger agitation

Social activist Anna Hazare, who will participate in a two-day protest against the land ordinance at the Jantar Mantar beginning Monday, has said that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal can join the movement but they will have to sit with the common man.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2015 18:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Social activist Anna Hazare,Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi,Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal

Social activist Anna Hazare on Monday accused the Narendra Modi government of antipathy towards farmers as he launched a two-day protest against the controversial land acquisition ordinance in the Capital.

The 77-year-old activist, who was joined by hundreds of supporters and Narmada Bachao movement's Medha Patekar at Jantar Mantar, also hinted at a bigger agitation at the Ramlila ground if the government did not take the land ordinance back saying he will take the movement to each and every district of the country.

"How can you take away land without farmer's consent. India is an agricultural country. The government must think about the farmers. The land ordinance is undemocratic," Hazare said.

"The government cannot be indifferent to the farmers' interest. This is government of people of India and not of England or America. It is the people who have made the government," he said.

Slamming the Centre on the land ordinance, Hazare said it must be withdrawn immediately.

"After Independence, this is for the first time farmers are facing so much of injustice under the current government after it brought the ordinance on the land acquisition," he said.

"The 2013 land acquisition act said unless 70% of the villagers where the land has to be acquired give their consent, the land cannot be acquired. But this government removed this provision. This has been done for the benefit of corporates.

"Before the elections, the people were promised 'acche din' (good days), they trusted (the party) and voted for them. Today they are forcibly taking away the land from farmers. So the 'acche din' are for the corporates not for the common man," he said.

In December last, the government had promulgated the ordinance making significant changes in the land act including removal of consent clause for acquiring land for five areas - industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence.

Hazare has been highly critical of the government for making certain changes in the land acquisition act, introduced by the earlier Congress-led UPA government, through an ordinance.

He said a two-day protest beginning Monday at the Capital's Jantar Mantar will be followed by a three- to four month-long 'padyatra' across the country to make people aware of the "anti-farmer" provisions made by the Centre in the ordinance.

"If the government doesn't take the ordinance back, then the people will also continue with their agitation. The activists will make the farmers aware (of the amendments). There is a chance that farmers from across the country will gather at the Ramlila Maidan in the next three-four months," he said.

Hazare said after 3-4 months of padayatra at district and block level across the country, a "jail-bharo" movement will be launched from Ramlila ground.

Hazare had said earlier that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal could join the movement but they would have to sit with the common man.

"This ordinance is against the farmers. In an agriculturally dominated nation, when there is torture on the farmers then all the people should stand united. So we want that any opposition party or be it Kejriwal, all the workers should work together to take this agitation forward," Hazare said.

The activist, however, said he will not allow the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or Congress to share stage with him at the protest venue as political parties manipulate such situations against each other.

"They will be not be allowed to share the stage because if I allow, then it will become a party event. They are free to join the crowd. No one can stop them."

Hazare and Kejriwal will meet in Delhi on Monday night in the backdrop of the agitation against the land ordinance. The meeting will take place at the New Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, Hazare's aide Dutta Awari told PTI.

The AAP would give tacit support to Hazare's movement and provide its volunteers for the protest.

Hazare had earlier said the Delhi chief minister had expressed his desire to join the "anti-farmer" agitation.

Asked whether he will miss his one-time protegees Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi in the protest, he said, "Why will we miss them. We don't have any personal motive or interest. If there is a personal motive or interest, then they will be missed. These are people's issues."

First Published: Feb 23, 2015 08:47 IST