NEW DELHI: Nearly seven years after his anti-corruption movement shook the then Central government led by prime minister Manmohan Singh, social activist Anna Hazare is set to begin an indefinite hunger strike again on Friday. This time against the Narendra Modi-led BJP government. The strike will be held at the same iconic Ram Lila Maidan in Delhi where the protest was held in 2011.
Ahead of the protest, Hazare on Friday blamed the Central government for cancelling trains in which the protestors were heading to Delhi. "You cancelled trains carrying protesters to Delhi, you want to push them to violence. Police force deployed for me as well. I wrote in many letters that I don't need police protection. Your protection won't save me. This sly attitude of the government is not done," Hazare claimed.
Hazare has been accusing the Centre of not appointing the Lokpal to investigate the cases of corruption, despite having a law in place.
"Anna will first visit the Rajghat and then come to the Ram Lila Maidan, where he will go an indefinite strike," said an aide of Hazare. March 23 has been chosen as the date to begin the fast as Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged to death on this day by the British. The organisers are claiming that thousands of people will attend the protest.
In 2011 too, Anna Hazare sat on the hunger strike at the same Ram Lila Maidan and had demanded a Lokpal be set up to investigate cases of corruption. Hazare has been pressing for setting up of the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states, besides implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report, which has suggested ways to address the agrarian distress.
The 2011 anti-graft agitation by Hazare, which aimed at the increasing corruption cases that had surfaced during the UPA rule, had received the support of millions of people across the country. Some of the main organisers of that anti-corruption movement later formed the Aam Aadmi Party, which now governs Delhi. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was one of Hazare's key aides.
The Delhi Traffic Police has issued an advisory, warning commuters to avoid taking routes towards Aruna Asaf Ali Road, Delhi Gate, Darya Ganj, New Delhi Railway Station, Ajmeri Gate, Paharganj, ITO, Rajghat, Minto Road, Vivekanand Marg, and JLN Marg. Hazare and his supporters will first visit the Rajghat and then they will march to Shaheedi Park and then to Ram Lila Maidan.