Ahmednagar, Maharashtra: Addressing a huge gathering of his supporters for the first time since he broke his 12-day fast to press for a strong Lokpal Bill, noted social crusader Anna Hazare on Friday appealed to youths to come forward in the nation building.
The social crusader said, “Despite 64 years of our independence, we have not achieved true and real freedom. This is the second freedom movement of India. ”
Appealing to youths, Anna said, “Wake up and fight against all injustice. Once the youth of India is awakened, no one can stop us, as youth power is national power. Even if a small sacrifice is made, it will do a lot of good for the coming generations.”
Stressing that the change has begun, Anna stated, “We should be ready to make supreme sacrifices to make our country a corruption-free nation. The task is not yet over,” adding, “the flame for change has been lit and it should not get dim.”
The 74-year old Gandhian said that the time has come to shift our focus to other evils of our society like poverty, starvation, unequal distribution of income and public resources and lack of education.”
He asked his supporters to reduce poverty levels, stating that the gap between the rich and poor must be reduced. He stressed that the decentralisation of power is important for improving the situation in the country.
The anti-corruption crusader also slammed the government for betraying the civil society.
Thanking all his supporters for their unconditional support to his movement against corruption, Anna said, “My campaign for the Lokpal Bill has exposed the true colour of the government at the centre. The government first refused me permission and place for starting my fast and then arrested me and finally lodged me in Tihar Jail.”
He continued by saying, “The police told me that my indefinite fast threatened the law and order situation in the national capital and said that I could be set free for a surety of Rs 10,000, but I refused.”
Coming down heavily on the government, Anna said, “The centre government betrayed the civil society. It changed its stance every time we approached it. Home Minister P Chidambaram is a liar. He misled us and did not tell the truth.”
Anna’s first public meeting after he ended his agitation for a strong anti-graft legislation was held at his native village Ralegan Siddhi. This is Anna’s first public appearance after he broke his indefinite fast on August 28 over the Jan Lokpal Bill.
The Gram Sabha or the public meeting was originally scheduled for yesterday afternoon but was postponed to today in view of Gandhian’s fatigue.
Hundreds of villagers from nearby areas gathered to attend the meeting. A "gram bhojan" was also organised on the occasion for about 10,000 villagers.
The Gandhian, for the first time in three decades, did not attend Ganesh Chaurthi celebrations in the village which started yesterday. “Anna sent his blessings, and had requested that a Harijan couple should do the ceremonial ‘aarthi’ for Lord Ganesha this year. It was agreed by the villagers,” an aide said.