No political leader would be allowed on the dais, says Anna Hazare

Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has decided to undertake fast unto death at Delhi’s Ramlila ground to press various demands.

pune Updated: Mar 21, 2018 23:24 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times, Pune
Anna Hazare, anti-corruption crusader (HT FILE PHOTO)

At a time when political activities in Delhi and Maharashtra have gathered momentum with barely one year left for Lok Sabha polls, anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has decided to undertake fast unto death at Delhi’s Ramlila ground to press various demands. Hazare spoke to Yogesh Joshi of Hindustan Times and shared his thoughts about the proposed agitation and its timing. Following are the edited excepts from the interview-

Why have you chosen to undertake fast when elections to crucial states are round the corner and only a year left for Lok Sabha polls?

During the elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised many things. However, many of the promises are not fulfilled, yet. I have been writing to him on various occasions, reminding him about his promises. However, Prime Minister has not responded to any of my letters. This has left me with no choice but to undertake fast. However I want to make it clear that I don’t intend to topple the government neither do I have power to do so. The timing of my agitation also has nothing to do with the forthcoming elections.

What will be the nature of your protest?

We have been given Ramlila ground in Delhi for protest. I will start my fast unto death at Ramlila ground from March 23 with my colleagues.

Unlike 2011, the response to your proposed agitation has not been huge so far. Do you think people are still waiting to see what Modi government has to offer?

The media may not be covering our strike due to reasons best known to them. We have so far got huge response. I have travelled around 20 states and addressed 40 public meetings to gather support. The response I have received so far has been very good. We have also decided to focus on social media to garner support.

What are the main demands for your agitation?

One of our main demands has been the appointment of stronger Lokpal to curb corruption in the country. Another demand is to give at least 150 times higher than the production cost, for farm produce. The government hasn’t accepted these demands till now.

The government through Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan had initiated dialogue with you. Was any proposal put forward by the government?

Mahajan came to meet me on the directions of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and the Prime Minister’s office. However he did not have any concrete proposal. I told him that I am open to discussion provided the government comes up with a concrete proposal and discusses our demands in the ongoing parliament session. I am hopeful that government will pay attention to our demands.

Your 2011 agitation was against Congress and BJP as opposition had supported it. Will you accept Congress support since you are protesting against the Modi (BJP) government?

We have a clear policy in place this time. We will not stop any political party leader or activist from attending the agitation but no leader would be allowed on the dias. However I don’t see any difference between the Congress party and the BJP as the former was in power for over 65 years and yet did nothing. As an opposition party too, they did not do anything.

This time, you have asked your core committee members to submit affidavit that they won’t join any political party in future?

Yes, I had to do that considering the past experience. During 2011, many people with political ambitions joined our movement and eventually used it for political reasons. This time, I am taking every precaution possible to prevent that situation.

There have been questions raised on your core team also. The team has all new faces?

The team comprises of people from across the nation. We have vetted their background and only then we have decided to make them members of core committee team.

First Published: Mar 20, 2018 22:18 IST