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No question of stepping back: Anna Hazare

Face to face with Anna Hazare.

lucknow Updated: Feb 27, 2018 15:40 IST
Anupam Srivastava
Anupam Srivastava
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Anna Hazare,Modi government,Lokpal Act
Anna Hazare in Lucknow.(HT Photo)

Noted social activist Anna Hazare is in UP to mobilize support for his proposed satyagraha in New Delhi on March 23 to demand Lokpal at the national level. Anupam Srivastava spoke to the anti-corruption crusader on a wide range of issues. Excerpts:

What do you think about the Modi government ?

The Modi government has not cared about farmers. It has failed to stop corruption despite the PM saying he will neither take any money nor allow others to do so. It has only promoted industrialists at the expense of farmers. Ideally, all the crops should be insured and farmers must get full value for their crops. Secondly, the Modi government has diluted Article 44 of Lokpal Act. Under this act, all the bureaucrats were asked to declare their assets every year, but this has been diluted. Now, you can think how this government is fighting corruption.

You are going to hold a satyagraha in Delhi. Has anyone from the Centre approached you to know your demands?

No one has approached me, though I have written 22 letters to Modi. In fact, in my last letter I have written that perhaps the PM has become too busy and doesn’t have time for an old man like me but he should at least speak about the issues raised by me. But still there has been no reply.

So what’s your plan? Will you take back your agitation in Delhi if anyone approaches you? Do you think the government will pressure you for withdrawing your agitation?

There is no question of withdrawing the agitation. Three governments have tried and sent me to jail, two of them in Maharashtra and one at the Centre. They were all voted out the next time. This is the power of common man. My plan is to agitate unless all the demands are met. There is no question of me stepping back, as this government has further diluted Lokpal , and has not taken any steps for electoral reforms.

Recently, UP hosted a successful investors summit in which huge investments have been promised. What’s you comment on that?

Let me tell you, big industries cannot bring development. Development will come only when the income of farmers is increased through agriculture. So, invest in that, not in big industries.

What did you think about the recent incident of the Delhi chief secretary being allegedly slapped in front of your protege Arvind Kejriwal? Do you approve of this?

Let me tell you I don’t have any relations with Kejriwal since the day he decided to step into politics. I just don’t take any of his calls. However, this incident in which the chief secretary was allegedly slapped by AAP MLAs is unfortunate and must be condemned, if true. The bureaucracy is an important organ of democracy. Without democracy, politicians cannot survive.

Are you happy with the work of the Kejriwal government in Delhi?

This, you all know better how that government is working (laughs.)

First Published: Feb 27, 2018 15:40 IST