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Updated: September 18, 2011 00:58 IST

I am not Gandhi: Anna Hazare

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The Hindu
"I am not Gandhi, I don’t consider myself anywhere close to him in stature," says Anna Hazare. The picture shows the social activist on a fast at the Ramlila Madian in New Delhi on 18 August, 2011. Photo: Ramesh Sharma

In the last six months, Anna Hazare has gone from being a social activist to a national icon. As the septuagenarian recovers from his 13-day fast in his village Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra, and chalks out future strategies for his agitation, he speaks about being labelled the second Gandhi, the future of party politics in the country, and the need for co-existence, development and corruption alleviation. In an interview with Amruta Byatnal, he says the fight is not against the government, but against its corrupt tendencies. Excerpts from the interview:

You are being called the nation’s next Gandhi. What do you feel about this comparison?

I am not Gandhi, I don’t consider myself anywhere close to him in stature. His life and ideology has had a huge impact on the world. I merely try to imbibe some of his values in my life, like issues of rural development. I would like to appeal to the people not to compare me with him — that is not right. It doesn’t do justice to his greatness.

The anti corruption movement is being compared to the Maoist movement. It is said that both the movements seek to overthrow the state. Is that true?

This is a misunderstanding. We have nothing to do with the government. We are merely ensuring that the corrupt tendencies don’t show their ugly head in people’ lives. It is because of corruption that prices are rising. We are rooting out the corrupt attitude. Our fight is against corruption, not against the government… We do not blame the entire lot. There are some clean people in the government.

You have said that all clean, like-minded people should come together and form a new independent party. How realistic and practical is that in today’s day and age?

I felt it [that a clean party should be formed], so I said it. I hope that it happens. The future lies in like-minded people coming together. Party politics is insufficient; none of the parties are clean. People are forgetting the country is bigger than the party. To add to that, some politicians are becoming bigger than their party. In this bargain, the cause of the country is lost. So I thought that all the clean people should come together for the country.

Even otherwise, our andolan is on. We will use the people’s might to create pressure. It is the need of the hour. Some people find using pressure wrong, but constitution gives us the right to fight for our rights.

You have said that you will undertake campaigns against the MPs who oppose the Jan Lokpal Bill in parliament. Won’t that result in benefitting certain other candidates?

This is what the corrupt politicians should understand. Even in 1991 when we protested against the Congress government in Maharashtra, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena were swarming around us. But when BJP Sena came to power, they also turned out to be equally corrupt.

I have no intentions of favouring any political party. We have always said our andolan’s intention is not to bring down the government. But if the government doesn’t understand the language, the pain of the people, then there will be no regrets if the government falls.

We will continue to protest. At least the politicians will realise that they are being held accountable.

Please specify whether you support Raj Thackeray, and his Marathi Manoos ideology?

No I don’t support him. We have to work towards creating one India, then it won’t matter if the people are Madrasi or Bihari. Otherwise the country will be broken into pieces.

Don’t you think there are more pressing issues that are plaguing India, other than just corruption?

The government hasn’t understood this. For poverty eradication, corruption is not the only answer. Take the example of this village. 80 per cent people were starving. It was a barren land, and people were working in alcohol shops, they walked for ten km to find work, to break stones. Poverty alleviation through development is necessary. Development and corruption eradication go hand in hand. That is why we are taking up other issues of reforms, along with corruption.

You said in your village you haven’t taken money from industrialists or from international funding agencies. But there are allegations that ‘India Against Corruption’ has accepted money from these sources.

For the same reasons, I have ordered a special audit of the expenditure from April till September. If the irregularities are proven, if there is black money pumped into the movement, I will withdraw.

Your movement was heeded to by the government partly because of the huge media attention it got. Why didn't the government respond in the same way to the Maoists' demands? Do you think the government could have stopped them from taking up arms?

Who forced them to take up arms? If the government would have paid proper attention to their demands, they wouldn’t have resorted to violence. As far as the Jan Lokpal Andolan is concerned, I don’t know why the media gave me, a fakir, so much attention.

There is a perception created that if people are against the Jan Lokpal Bill, they are corrupt. Is there no scope for people to have a different opinion on things?

Whatever it is, we have a majority and this is a democracy. We considered what Aruna Roy said too. But after all people supported it, not because Anna says so. There is a need to think about what the people say. They came out in crores of numbers to support the Jan Lokpal Bill.

One of the criticisms of the movement is that only the middle class came out on the streets to support it.

People who say so haven’t seen who all supported us. People are finding it difficult to live because of corruption. The poor came out on the streets. Look at the people who came to Ramlila, they were not people roaming around in AC cars.

Before the comment on the slap issue raised by Anna Hazare, he was a guy
who has followed Gandhi's ideology all his life and after the incident
he says he has taken some ideologies from Gandhi's life.....Does he know
what is he doing? Simple Example - 1+2 = 3( now this is gandhi's
ideology) Anna takes it to next level - 1+2 ( ideology copied from
Gandhi) = 4 ( anna's result - his final ideology). He is all ova d
place, sorry to say that

from:  Imroze S Gill
Posted on: Dec 8, 2011 at 19:11 IST

i thanks to the editor to have such good interview .which definitely help to the people who misunderstood about shri anna hazare

from:  akash m tawar
Posted on: Dec 8, 2011 at 16:01 IST

After this interview, i would like to say any one who ignores Anna really lacks minimum attribute of a human.

from:  musthafa ck
Posted on: Dec 8, 2011 at 15:12 IST

We need thousands of Anna to transform India to a prosperous and corruption free nation, to a nation where all people enjoy the life equally. As the wealth of India is its youth, come together, lets give hands for the upliftment of our Country. We can transform India to a nation which our forefathers dreamed.

from:  Radhakant Gartia
Posted on: Oct 29, 2011 at 11:25 IST

Anna Hazare is fighting for second freedom for our country by clearing the persons who have been corrupting this country for many years and he is giving strength to a common people.Anna could invade in his own way to bring the better future for every indian.Every indian would be a strong supportive for this great movement.

from:  satish
Posted on: Sep 21, 2011 at 14:41 IST

The Team Anna also talked about the performance evaluation of the Elected reps... just wanted to connect to that Praja foundation Mumbai has tried doing the Mumbai MLA report cards, and this Report card is very comprehensive as well as objective... we have also posted this to the team... www.praja.org

from:  priyanka
Posted on: Sep 20, 2011 at 11:05 IST

Wonder why are we Indians so obsessed with Gandhi! Times have changed, the world has changed; obviously the methods of protests and dealing with the State would also change. Why make Gandhi such a benchmark that everyone has to be compared to him. Gandhi was an ordinary human like all of us. Why lionize him so much? Let Gandhi be what he was and allow others to be themselves. It is time to stop these childish comparisons.

from:  Amar Sharma
Posted on: Sep 20, 2011 at 08:26 IST

13 days fast by anna is really phenominal and that too for "we people" is really amazing..hats off to anna for that..but it will be really successful if persued to its end..direct questions and direct answers...excellent interview...

from:  anupama
Posted on: Sep 19, 2011 at 20:16 IST

Why anna not witnessing the left role againist corruption. MPs, CMs of left were not corrupt. That`s why anna should delink left from other political parties. It will help mouvement. In 2G spetrm scam CPIM MP Sitaram yechuri wrote a letter to PM. Calcutta High court Judge case also.

from:  Nagaraju.Vavdavasi
Posted on: Sep 19, 2011 at 19:34 IST

Annaji's anti corruption movement became a great success with hundreds and thousands of common people supporting him. It shows that the masses have truly lost confidence in the elected representatives of the country.No more people can tolerate the injustice and exploitation.they needed a leader to express their voice.And annaji is the voice of the common men. Go on Annaji with your brave effprts.

from:  sathish nair
Posted on: Sep 19, 2011 at 16:44 IST

He is the most original and authentic person and have come across in Indian public life. I feel so grateful that I had chance to go to his village twice.
If the critics or people on sidelines, think that he is overnight phenomenal then they should take time and visit his small village(population 3500).
Some statistics before 2005 (NOTE BEFORE 2005): 15 states have sent over 50 thousand govt official to his village to see and learn 10 CM including (Chandra Babu Naidu, Modi, Nitesh kumar, Dijvijay sign, several Maharashtra CM, Rajustan cm .. so on) visited Ralegeon Sidhhi Several states including MP(DIGVIJAY Sighn and Naidu) took him to there states for several visits to guide on rural development. He did not charge even 1 rupee.
>HE has been offered several CABINET LEVEL positions in SEVERAL successcive GOVTS.. he rejected all those..
I salute to this Simple and True India.

from:  Sandip Borkar
Posted on: Sep 19, 2011 at 11:10 IST

well said Annaji

from:  Anupam
Posted on: Sep 19, 2011 at 03:17 IST

Mr.Anna you are wrong that are some clean people in the parliament. the congress MPS impossible.That is their culture .It is equally true for opposition MPS.PM is the bigest person who protects those corrupt members i don't know how clean he is ?He should be punish first because he does their favor to stay his position as PRIME MINISTER .

from:  yogesh
Posted on: Sep 19, 2011 at 00:20 IST

NO doudt Anna Hazare and his andolan has been the topic of concern for the people of India since the last few weeks. The tremor caused by Anna wave made cracks in the political instituition at the centre. After some dramatic, unpreprocessing,unscrupulous acts the government came up with some favourable decisions giving Anna the image of Gandhi. Hazare got big media attention that glorified him and made his struggle against corruption popular. The role of Fourth Estate cannot be undermined in this issue for all media spared a lion share of their news hole covering the developments.Anna was 'held' in news by media organisations. The press should take a similar stand in other issues as well and augment its role as the watch dog of democracy.It's not only the success of Anna Hazare but the success of the media in India.

from:  sreela sathish
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 22:47 IST

Rustic wisdom and simplicity!
Spirit of Indian constitution. The young generation learns the depth of Gandhi topi and the robustness of an Indian soldier when he shouts "bharat mata ki jai". He imbibes/internalises the true teachings of Mahatma in our times.

from:  P Raj Singh
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 21:31 IST

I appreciate the efforts of Anna but his team is a bit doubtful. The Media attention was only for TRP purposes as there is no attention being paid to Anna nowadays. The Media is being given too much credit in India. Let us hope that the real problems facing India like rising costs and development to the grassrood level are acheived. The Government needs to pay attention to the Villages and Farmers in general need better storage facilities for their produce and huge losses between production and the market is overcome.

from:  ZUBIN THOMAS
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 17:29 IST

It is his virtue, strong will power and his selfless character which distinguish him from other and this is the reason populace like him, and even comparing with Gandhi ji.As rightly said by Anna ji all clean minded people should come together to guard our nation against corruption,poverty,inflation and many other relevant issue.

from:  Raj Narayan kumar
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 16:05 IST

People who had the doubts about Annaji's intentions may get cleared with his forthright thoughts.People who talked about that this fasting for gaining name and popularity may be able to see the thinking of Anna now.

from:  vs
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 15:14 IST

One more question to be asked that is ... When you are going to Manipur to meet and support Irom Sharmila Chanu ? What happened now after stating from ramlila maidan ?

from:  Deepak Joshi
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 12:50 IST

It has been my belief that this great country is being governed by corrupt,unprincipled, unscrupulous, double standard organizations and individuals who are materialistic, divisive and self conceited. Our country is ruled by a few who are efficient and proficient in election management and corrupt and divisive practices.Shri Annaji has exposed such politicians and political setups.According to me, Shri Annaji is the conscience of left wing forces.Shri Anna's victory will lead to freedom of all the leftist from the prison house of Indian society. The entire nation is with Anna Hajare because he is the spirit of Indian Constitution.

from:  Ranchhodbhai brahmabhatt
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 12:36 IST

I initially had inhibitions about Anna Hazare but not after his interview to Barkha Dutt in NDTV and now this article. It is truly inspirational to have such person amidst us, I salute Hazareji!

from:  Sukumar Athi Kesavan
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 12:34 IST

I feel in present scenario Annaji is more than a Gandhi. I am not under estimating Mahathma Gandhi. But that situation was different, world was under the colonial rule of British, he happened to go there and study, got inter national exposure. But Gandhiji was always having public support and only British was against him in open. Here how many years it took for him to acquire public support nationally(74-38=36 years). It is just because of our luck/his luck that still he is alive, becos we all know how many political parties or leaders truly supported him. Also the movement got success in national level because of the support by some stalwarts.

from:  Narayanaprasad TK
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 11:30 IST

Beautiful and honesty just radiates from Anna's answers. The journalist unnecessarily asked the question of whether those who do not support the bill are perceived as corrupt.

from:  Kunal
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 11:27 IST

Hindu always find some faults with right things done..media should play important role in creation of corruption free India and should not support Congress.

from:  harsh
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 11:27 IST

In Lucknow home guards(I do not think they are middle class) sat on Jhulelala park on andolan too with IAC though for different reason. They are not able to feed their chidren, and came out in full support of Annaji movement and wanted IAC to raise their demands. They planned to do the gheroa of UP Vidhanshaba but their supremo(police, well-fed) with heavy PAC out there forced them back. I have picture taken as a proof and uploaded it to facebook and I will do so again at IAC website now to take the cause of aam admi homeguards.

from:  priyank gupta
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 10:51 IST

A true & honest person can give such straight answers, not ducking the answers like most of politicians do.

from:  Arnab
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 10:08 IST

It is dirty politics and mischievous act of media that they have totally forgot the pain of common men caused by corruption, price rise and terror attack. Now media is devoting most of their time of Modi's fast,revisiting Gujrat riot of 2002 ignoring all misdeeds of Congress Party and UPA. Media is now not ready to know the fate of investigation undertaken by various agencies to know about the person who were behind terror attack in Delhi and Agra. Media is not bothered about rampant corruption or relentless rise in prices of essential commodities.It is a great relief to Manmohan Singh government that media have changed the agenda of voters. Media has forgot even Jan Lokpal Bill and Anna Hazare. Media has forgot Delhi Blast and even Agra blast.Media has wisely kept mum for few days on rising prices. Only one point is visible on TV channels and that is whether Mr. Modi should be considered for the post of PM.It is ridiculous that personal fast of 3 days by Modi has become national issue.

from:  Danendra Jain
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 09:50 IST

The people don`t have fear that`s why they are doing corrpution.The govt. must make a concrete rule and seize their property.

from:  Pramod
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 08:20 IST

When some of the cheering volunteers were comparing him with Gandhi Ji and his campaign with J.P. movement, I had written to THE HINDU that Anna Ji himself may not like to be compared with those great men who changed the course of history.The present campaign cannot even add a small chapter to the history of post-independence India. Anna Ji is really very honest, simple and forthright activist who successfully struggled to improve quality of life in his village using his native wisdom and skill. If possible, he may try to distance the Zoolawalas surrounding him. Also, if possible, he may return the awards because awards and rewards are another forms of corruption.

from:  Chamaraj bangi
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 07:50 IST

As spelled out by Anna Hazare, the present movement initiated by him has noble intentions of forming a healthy all-inclusive society embedded into it. I wish and pray for this movement to be long sustainable and achieve its intended goals, while making a strong resolve for myself to remain honest and not indulge in corrupt practices ever.

from:  Murtuza
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 07:36 IST

I hope this interview makes some people who have their doubts shed their inhibitions about Anna Hazare

from:  nikhil
Posted on: Sep 18, 2011 at 06:04 IST

Excellent interview by Amruta and thanks to Hindu for publishing.This crusade by Anna is first grassroot movement catching national attention against corruption.However as I witnessed corruption strts with electoral process where candidates spend lot of money to get elected and expect to reap benefits. 1)we need electoral reform so clean candidates have chance to win. 2)Target off shore accounts and bring big money back by declaring limited amnesty and threats to punish. 3)concentrate o largescale corruption instead of petty small scale as we have to consider expenditure vs return equation for the benifit of socity. Lastly a Free vibrant Press like Hindu publishing and supporting anti corruption platform will raise national consiousness.

from:  Ramachander Nanduri
Posted on: Sep 17, 2011 at 23:53 IST

The Hindu has once again done an excellent service to the society through this interview. Anna Hazare spoke with clarity on many vexed issues that confront India. In whatever he spoke, there is some message to every politician to introspect. If they all feel that they are Indians first and politicians next and come forward to surrender their ill gotten wealth voluntarily to the Government, the contry will develop in a spectacular manner.This voluntary act is suggested in the backdrop of recent reports suggesting a voluntary disclosure scheme to unearth black money.By the same token, IAC should set the process in motion by bringing its audited accounts in the public domain to clear the air surrounding the type of funding it gets for its anti- corruption campaign and through weekly/ monthly bulletins in prominent dailies, the details of contribution it receives and amounts expended with their purposes, from various sources and set a healthy example for all other NGOs in the country.

from:  Shekar
Posted on: Sep 17, 2011 at 22:53 IST
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