“The countrymen should not lose this spirit; this is our fight against corruption.” Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazarewon hearts in 2011 and shook the then Congress-led UPA government at the Centre with his “We want Jan Lokpal Bill” movement. After seven years of his fight for the establishment of corruption-free India, Anna finds himself in a hinterland. His fresh call for indefinite strike against the Centre for setting up of Lokpal has failed to impress the citizens, capture the enthusiasm of supporters and also got a cold shoulder from the central government.
Marking the day March 23 when freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev Thapar and Shivaram Rajguru breathed their last as ‘martyrs’, Anna Hazare has started an indefinite hunger strike called ‘Satyagraha’ at Delhi’s iconic Ramlila Maidan from Friday. The demands with which he has taken the centre stage this time are the setting up of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states to scrutinise corruption cases, bring in electoral reforms and enactment of the M S Swaminathan Committee report to deal with country’s existing agrarian crisis. He has also insisted on framing Agriculture Price Commission similar to the Election Commission and NITI Aayog.
RTI activist Anil Galgali stated, “In the name of Lokpal implementation and ensuring farmers’ comfort, both the erstwhile Congress and incumbent BJP government aremisleading people. BJP is just involved in advertising. If they really want to make corruption-free India, they should make Lokpal a reality. I am positive and hope it will be implemented in near future. I hope Anna’s agitation will get a response from the government and will be helpful to eliminate corruption in our country.”
Taking lesson from his earlier experience, Anna has introduced 20 new and unknown faces for his core team. He has also made the members and volunteers sign an affidavit as an oath to maintain far and wide distance from politics.“The earlier core team has totally scattered now. In a way, it is good that there are no old members,” Hazare expressed.
“I have written 43 letters to the Modi government in the last four years but did not get any reply,” voiced Anna slappingthe Modi governmentof being passive towards issues like Lokpal and fare crop prices for farmers. He has also attacked the centre for their manipulative attempt to make Anna’s campaign a failure. Aam Aadmi Party, which bloomed from Anna’s 2011 agitation, too seems to be inactive enough this time for the same cause that once gave them a place in national politics.
Former Chief Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi expressed that Hazare’s 2011 agitation was a success as then Arvind Kejriwal was its organiser.He further said, “I believe Anna Hazare now lack a proper organisational support. I don’t think it will be a success in Delhi, though can be briefly lucky in Maharashtra.”
“Opposition is using Anna’s movement as a weapon against the government. Swaminathan Committee is a necessity but there’s no use of Lokpal Bill implementation unless our political system improves,” Gandhi added.
Anti corruption campaigner who believed to have the “strength of the nation behind” him, finds himself all alone in the struggle to establish “strong anti-corruption watchdog”. With a pledge to continue hunger strike till the government comes out with a concrete action plan, will it be possible for single-handed Anna Hazare to make a grandstand against the government’sdecision to not functionalise the Lokpal Act since Union government in 2017 informed the SC, “It is impossible as there are more than 20 proposed amendments that need to be cleared.”
Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi questioned Anna Hazare’s silence for four long years and asked whether any silent adjustment is the reason! She voiced, “Instead of blaming it on Congress, both Aam Aadmi Party and Hazare should think on self-realisation.Other parties are also not taking any initiative and Centre is also silent on this issue. With everyone’s efforts and SC’s intervention, Lokpal Bill can become a reality and bring a positive change.”
It’s been quite a few decades that the Jan Lokpal Bill persisted as the topic of debate among many, inside and outside the political circle.Also known as the Citizen’s Ombudsman Bill, this act was drafted by social activists that asked for an independent body to investigate corruption cases and complete them within 365 days. Manned exclusively by non-politicians, including from among winners of Nobel and Magsaysay Award, the purpose of the act is to make a government official responsible towards his duties and liable to a financial penalty in case of failing to perform.
AAP leader Ravi Srivastavasaid, “I am with Anna Hazare since 2011; both UPA and BJP government cheatedhim. After Kejriwal became the CM, he completed Lokpal implementation on a state level. Though Centre has presented the Lokpal Bill in the Parliament but they failed toimplement it. Also, Vijay Kumar Singh, Kiran Bedi, yoga guru Baba Ramdev, all supported Anna in 2011, they are not by his side now. We are all fighting for the Lokpal Bill against the BJP government.”