Noted social activist Anna Hazare’s indefinite hunger strike against corruption drew huge support from all walks of life and forced the ruling disposition to bow down before people’s power and accept the demands for a stronger Lokpal Bill.
In a candid chat with Zeenews.com`s Swati Chaturvedi on her show Kahiye Janab, the new Mahatma, Anna Hazare praised people’s unity and asked politicians to think about the nation.
Swati: Why do you term this movement as the next freedom struggle?
Hazare: From 1857 to 1946 we fought for the country’s independence. People like Rajguru and Bhagat Singh laid down their lives for freedom. Britishers are gone but the nation is still grappling with corruption, goondagradi, loot etc. What kind of azadi is this? It’s like black replacing whites. Corruption has crossed all limits.
Swati: Mahatma Gandhi had said India got Independence, not the Congress. Is it the same Congress as the one that existed in Gandhiji’s era?
Hazare: Gandhiji used to say dissolve Congress. Is today’s Congress the same that existed during the era of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Swati: How do you view people coming out on the streets for this movement?
Hazare: People are fed up of corruption. Corruption is so much prevalent in this country that citizens are not able to tolerate it. This is the reason why they have stood united and are demanding change.
Swati: Why did you press for the inclusion of members from the civil society in the joint committee (that will draft the Lokpal Bill)?
Hazare: The dilemma is that people who are corrupt are heading institutional bodies like the CVC. People have witnessed scams like 2G spectrum allocation and are very disappointed. So they are joining this movement to eradicate corruption.
Swati: Why did you said that the Prime Minister mislead you?
Hazare: No, he didn’t mislead me. The Prime Minister said the government s ready to talk, but Anna is unwilling. This was not at all true. For the last three months I have been writing letters to the PM. I also had a chat with him about a month ago and clearly told him that if the government doesn’t agree then I’ll go on fast-unto-death from April 5. In between all this, the PM never replied to my letters or said anything. We were ready for talks because discussion is the best solution to get positive results.
Swati: People are now looking up to you rather than politicians…
Hazare: They (politicians) are not concerned about the society or the State. Politicians are just interested in power and money.
Swati: What change will the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by your team bring?
Hazare: There will be a big change. For example, if the CBI comes under Lokpal’s jurisdiction it will be free from government clutches. So, if the CBI is brought under Lokpal and the investigating agency holds someone guilty, then it will enable Lokpal to take strong action against the tainted. But at present it is under government no such action is possible.
Swati: There has been speculation that you are with the RSS. What’s your response?
Hazare: It’s a big surprise to me. I have never been associated with any political party. You perceive others the way you want to. It’s nothing new to me; I faced similar hurdles when I was advocating for RTI. When I led the movement against the Shiv Sena and the BJP, Congress members tried to get associated with me. Similarly, when I was against the Congress other political parties were trying to get involved with me.
Swati: What do you have to say about people losing trust in their elected representatives in a democracy?
Hazare: Politicians need to think about the society and the State.
Swati: What’s your take on politicians being booed away from Jantar Mantar?
Hazare: It was a mistake. I have even apologised to them. It’s a people movement and if anyone wants to be a part of it he/she is welcome. But they should sit with the people and not come on the stage.
Swati: What do you have to say about the youth joining the anti-corruption crusade?
Hazare: The youth is the country’s strength. I feel if the young generation is awakened the future of this nation will be very bright. I am trying to awaken them.
Swati: What’s your reaction to Sharad Pawar’s resignation and you and citizens getting together.
Hazare: It’s a people’s victory.
Adapted by Biplob Ghosal