Anna Hazare heads to Varanasi to spread movement
Lucknow: The pilgrim city of Varanasi will be the launch pad for a nationwide expansion of social activist Anna Hazare's battle against corruption. He arrives Friday for a three-day tour of Uttar Pradesh.
The renowned Gandhian, whose 97-hour fast in the capital this month compelled the central government to allow a joint Lokpal Bill drafting panel involving the civil society, will renew his movement in a big way from Varanasi.
Hazare will be accompanied by his comrade-in-arms -- former top cop Kiran Bedi, RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal and activist Swami Agnivesh.
After addressing a public rally in Varanasi the same evening, Anna will move to Sultanpur, where he will address yet another public meeting the following day.
His three-day Uttar Pradesh tour will end in Lucknow, where a huge rally has been planned at the Jhule Lal Park along the banks of the Gomati river May 1.
Asked if the state had been chosen as a launch pad by the Anna-led India Against Corruption (IAC) simply because of corruption at all levels in the state, organiser Akhilesh Saxena said: "Corruption cuts across all states and political parties, therefore our idea is not to target any single party but to take on corruption at its roots everywhere."
"Varanasi has been selected as the starting point since it happens to be the most ancient city and Uttar Pradesh because it is the country's most populous state."
Anna will also address a gathering of prominent intellectuals, activists and clerics of different religions at the Hazratganj Cathedral and also have an interaction with the media here.
Saxena was asked if Hazare's visit to Uttar Pradesh had come in response to Congress leader Digvijay Singh's challenge to stage an anti-corruption demonstration in this state.
But Saxena said: "Anna's visit to the state was planned well before Digvijay Singh made that statement. He is not guided by what politicians say."