Corruption as dangerous as communalism, he says

Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Thursday declared that “corruption was as dangerous as communalism”.

Announcing his decision to go on a hunger strike from next Tuesday to press for the Jan Lokpal Bill to be passed in Parliament, he said: “Communalism is worse than corruption but if in the name of secularism corruption were to invade every home then I consider it as dangerous as communalism.”

Despite poor health, the 76-year-old social activist would observe his fast — his fifth — at his village, Ralegan Sidhi, in Maharashtra. This agitation would be under the banner of Jantantra Morcha, a new organisation launched by him after he dissolved the India Against Corruption following parting of ways with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal.

Simultaneous agitations would be held in every district in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan, which he had toured in the last six months for “people’s awakening” against corruption and inflation. Indifferent health made Mr. Hazare shift his fast venue from Delhi to Ralegan.

Addressing a press conference alongside a journalist from a Hindi publication, Mr. Hazare was vague about the team which would lead the agitation in Delhi or about persons who would be “authorised” to speak on his behalf. He said the funding for the Jantanra Morcha came from “donations” he had received from people during his recent campaign. He had disbanded a coordination committee of experts and well-known NGOs and said he had no intention of re-constituting it.

The Jan Lokpal Bill was a proposed anti-corruption legislation drafted by members of the civil society during Mr. Hazare’s fast-unto-death on the Ramlila Ground in December 2011. The government, however, came up with its version of the Lokpal Bill, which is pending discussion and approval in the Rajya Sabha.

Accusing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of “betrayal” and Leaders of the Opposition in Parliament, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley of not raising a voice, Mr. Hazare said both the sides were not interested in bringing a strong Jan Lokpal Bill or reining in corruption.

Mr. Hazare declined to field questions on Mr. Kejriwal saying the issues of the nation were much bigger than individuals.

Asked by The Hindu to comment on the exit poll results which gave the AAP up to 18 seats in Delhi, he quipped: “Let us wait till the 8th [when election results will be declared].”

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