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Anna vote for Narendra Modi; doubts people’s judgement

Hazare singled out two CMs of states ruled by parties other than Congress as worthy of emulation.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
April 11, 2011 1:58:42 am

Having forced the Congress-led UPA government to form a joint committee with civil society representatives for framing the Lokpal Bill,social activist Anna Hazare today singled out two chief ministers of states ruled by parties other than the Congress — Nitish Kumar (Bihar) and Narendra Modi (Gujarat) — as worthy of emulation.

“The kind of model that Gujarat and Bihar chief ministers have presented,that model should be emulated by all other chief ministers… I am saying this on the basis of the kind of works Bihar and Gujarat CMs have done in the field of rural development,” Hazare said during an interaction at the Press Club here today.

He added: “I have described these chief ministers as good only partially. I will call them 100 per cent good only when they also accept the Lokpal kind of system.”

Later in the evening,when his statement threatened to generate controversy,Hazare issued a clarification saying he had been “misinterpreted”. He has repeatedly asserted that his movement is “apolitical”,despite elements of the Sangh Parivar backing it.

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“I praised only the development work done by Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar in rural areas. Alongside I clarified that I am equally opposed to any form of communal disharmony.” He said his only goal was “to save this country from corruption”.

Expressing confidence that the Lokpal Bill will eradicate corruption by about 90 per cent,he suggested that the remaining 10 per cent could be taken care of by electoral reforms with the provision of “right to reject”. So,he advocated the need for “none of the above” button in electronic voting machines.

At the same time,the activist whose fast drew supporters from across the spectrum of the general public,across the country,doubted the intelligence of ordinary voters in making choices during elections.

“I will forfeit my deposit if I contest any elections,” Hazare said,implying that good candidates seldom won. “Ordinary voter does not have awareness. They cast their vote under the influence of Rs 100 or a bottle of liquor or a sari offered by candidates. They don’t understand the value of their vote.”

In fact,Hazare further advocated,“those who do not exercise their vote should be stripped off all public benefits”.

Interestingly,asked when they would declare their assets like other members of the joint committee that would frame the Lokpal Bill (who had to do the same being elected representatives),Hazare and his colleague Arvind Kejriwal were evasive.

“We will put this issue before the committee… that there is a question regarding this issue,” Hazare said. Pressed for a reply,he added: “The assets should be made public. Why should one fear?”

Kejriwal chose to underline that their position was different from people in “executive positions”. “Why is an asset declaration demanded? Because the person exercises certain executive powers,” he said. Again,when pressed,he added that he had no problem with civil society representatives declaring their assets. However,he evaded setting a time frame for it.

Hazare said the misunderstanding with Baba Ramdev over the presence of both Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant in the joint committee had been resolved. Incidentally,Shanti Bhushan, when asked about the matter today,said: “We don’t need to do yoga in the panel,but we need experts/specialists.”

Ramdev too claimed the matter had been resolved,saying the issue of nepotism had been raised by the media. “I only said volunteers wanted Kiran Bedi on the panel,” he said in Haridwar.

Hazare asserted that the meetings of the joint committee be made public through video-conference to ensure transparency. Should the Bill get stuck in Parliament,he warned,he would hit the streets again. Associate Kiran Bedi chipped in to add: “August 15 is going to be a turning point. It should be over by then,or we will go to the streets again.”

Asked whether he saw himself as Mahatma Gandhi or Jaiprakash Narain,Hazare said he did not deserve even to sit close to the Father of the Nation. “I have done some small work… Don’t compare me with Gandhiji.”

Hazare replied in the affirmative when asked whether he strived to set up an organisation to fight corruption. It would take time,he said,but “I will set up an organisation in the whole country”.

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