Social activist Anna Hazare said on Saturday that he would not be averse to supporting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the post of Prime Minister if she was ready to state in an affidavit her commitment to his 17-point economic agenda. He claimed that if he backed Mamata, she would get 40 seats in the Lok Sabha, and would be in a position to decide who becomes the Prime Minister.
Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange, Hazare also said his one-time lieutenant Arvind Kejriwal had not lived up to his expectations as the Delhi Chief Minister.
He said while both Kejriwal and Mamata were strong, the latter had retained her simplicity. “It is the thought that matters. I have always said, since Arvind was with me, that he believes in sacrifice and has a good character. But he is in a party now. Somewhere our paths are different. He has strength, and so does Mamata. She’s a Chief Minister, but she still lives in her father’s small house. She did not take a government bungalow or car. She wears hawai chappals and a simple sari, and travels 8-10 kilometres inside villages. These kind of people can make a difference to the country,” he said.
Pushing for a political set-up where people field suitable candidates instead of going with political parties, Hazare said he would embark on an all-India tour in March and form an anti-corruption plank with good, Independent candidates. “I roam without any funding or getting any grant from anywhere. Main jahan jaata hoon, wahan ek jhola ja ke rakh deta hoon,” he said.
Hazare said Kejriwal had contacted him to unveil the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill but he had not made a commitment yet. “I do not know what the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill has, I have not seen it. Yesterday, Arvind called saying he wants me to unveil the Bill. I said I don’t know where I will be on February 16, and I don’t know what is in the Bill. Once I see it, I will decide,” he said.
In his Burari meeting on Friday, Kejriwal had described the Jan Lokpal Bill as “Anna Hazare’s Lokpal”. “I have nothing to say about them using my name if it is for the good of society,” said Hazare.
Asked about Kejriwal’s agitation outside Rail Bhawan last month, Hazare said while there is nothing wrong with protests, there is a need to see whether the constitution permits it.
On the other hand, Hazare praised the West Bengal Chief Minister. The Trinamool Congress was the only party that responded to his letter outlining his 17-point charter last May.
“I have asked her to give her commitment in the form of an affidavit… I will definitely try to support such people. Why shouldn’t I when I am out to change the country… People have to put up candidates, not any political party. If people put up candidates with good image in society, even if they are Independent, I will support them,” he said.
Hazare’s 17-point charter includes passing of Lokpal, Citizens Charters and Whistleblowers Bill, recognising gram sabhas as the basic administrative unit, power station in every village, declaring black money in foreign banks as national asset, a new tax policy and containing inflation.
He said if Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi were really serious about the country, they should have replied to his 17-point charter.
Earlier, addressing a seminar at the Gandhi Peace Foundation, Hazare said there was “no need for political parties to exist at all and they were the reason for corruption within the House.” He said “if just individuals were to be elected in the House, they would not be corrupt.”
Former Apple executive and Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri has also been included in the spokespersons’ list.