Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare has called on “all Indians” to join his forthcoming protest, but those seeking to do so will have to furnish a duly signed affidavit stating that they will not associate with, or join, any political party later. In 2011, Hazare had led massive anti-corruption protests at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal, a trusted aide of Hazare during the protests, later went on to form the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is now in power in Delhi.
The activist is planning to stage a similar protest rally against the government’s inability to address farmers’ woes, as well as the “toothless” Lokpal and Lokayukta bills.
So far, over 3,000 volunteers have already sent in their affidavits for the protest, scheduled to be held in early 2018. In an open letter to his volunteers, sent on November 2, Hazare urged “all Indians to come forward and show their strength, to force the government to act”. “I want all volunteers to follow the path of non-violence, like what Mahatma Gandhi had taught us. You must be prepared to face any adversity, and to be jailed for a larger cause,” read the strongly-worded letter. Criticising the NDA government at the Centre, which had promised to wipe out corruption in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Hazare said, “There has been no change in corrupt practices and even today, the common man has to pay a bribe to get any work done”. Mentioning the Land Acquisition Bill, Hazare went on to highlight the issue of farmers’ suicides, and said that no government had “actively engaged with farmers or helped them get their due”.
“…When the Land Acquisition Bill was being tabled, united effort by farmers across Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh had prevented the bill from becoming a reality. The Modi government was forced to reconsider its bill. Had the bill been passed, the situation of farmers would have worsened,” said Hazare, who also suggested that pension schemes should be introduced for farmers who are over 60 years old.
“Firstly, the government has failed miserably in keeping a check on the ever-increasing costs involved in farming. The farmers were never able to get their due returns from farm produce. With the increasing debt, they had no choice but to end their lives. Now, the government must consider their families — who have spent their lives working in the fields — and award pensions,” suggested Hazare.
Rubbishing the manner in which the Lokpal Bill was “hurriedly passed” in both houses of Parliament in July last year, the veteran anti-corruption activist said this had “derailed” the purpose of introducing such a bill.
“The Lokpal Bill was tabled in both houses of Parliament, on July 27 and July 28 last year. The bill also got the final nod from then President Pranab Mukherjee on July 30. How can a bill be cleared, without any suggestions, objections or even discussions,” he questioned.
Hazare claimed that the bill had become “toothless and was incapable of checking corrupt practices”.
Continuing his attack on the Modi government, Hazare said, “The government is not even mentioning any hardship or difficulty that the common man is facing to survive in this country. What corruption are they going to wipe out?”