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Government initiates dialogue with Hazare ahead of Delhi protest

While on the one hand, the Centre has given permission for Hazare’s protest in Delhi, on the other hand senior Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan held talks with Hazare at his hometown Ralegan Siddhi on the second consecutive day on Tuesday. Mahajan conveyed to Hazare, the government’s “seriousness” about the demands made by the crusader.

pune Updated: Mar 21, 2018 15:00 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Anna Hazare,Government
In an interview to Hindustan Times, Hazare said that he will not backtrack from his proposed agitation till the government accepts demands related to the appointment of the Lokpal and increasing the price for farm produce.(HT FILE PHOTO)

The central and state governments have initiated a dialogue with the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare ahead of his March 23 fast at the Ramlila ground in Delhi to press for the appointment of the Lokpal (ombudsman) among other demands.

While on the one hand, the Centre has given permission for Hazare’s protest in Delhi, on the other hand senior Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan held talks with Hazare at his hometown Ralegan Siddhi on the second consecutive day on Tuesday. Mahajan conveyed to Hazare, the government’s “seriousness” about the demands made by the crusader.

Later, in an interview to Hindustan Times, Hazare said that he will not backtrack from his proposed agitation till the government accepts demands related to the appointment of the Lokpal and increasing the price for farm produce. The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act 2013, was passed by the Parliament four years ago as an anti-corruption framework, however, not a single Lokpal has been appointed since then.

“While I am open for discussion with the government, there is no way that I will call off the proposed agitation until the government accepts the demands,” Hazare said, while downplaying the timing of the agitation in Delhi ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Upset over the non-appointment of Lokpal since the last four years, Hazare announced a protest against the government on March 23, observed as the Martyrs’ Day. Ahead of the protest, Hazare constituted a committee of 20 members to prepare for what he has termed as “satyagraha”. The core committee members, chosen from various parts of the country, also discussed the possibility of Hazare sitting on an indefinite hunger strike if the government does not pay heed to the agitation.

“I met Hazare, the second time in two days and requested him to reconsider his decision about the fast, considering his age. On behalf of the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Prime Minister’s office, I also conveyed to Hazare that the government is serious about his demands,” Mahajan said following his meeting with the crusader.

According to Mahajan, the chief minister and senior ministers from the Centre will continue to talk to Hazare, who indicated willingness to engage in a dialogue, provided there is something concrete on offer. Earlier on Monday evening, Hazare spoke with Fadnavis over the phone during his meeting with Mahajan.

“During our discussion, I told Hazare that most of his demands need to be considered in Parliament, which is currently in session. I am hopeful that Hazare will reconsider his stand on the fast,” said Mahajan.

While Hazare had sought permission for protest four months ago, the Centre allowed the protestors to sit at Ramlila through a letter, which the crusader received on Monday evening.

First Published: Mar 21, 2018 14:59 IST