A day after social activist Anna Hazare kicked off his nationwide yatra from Gandhi Maidan here on Wednesday, he questioned the projection of Narendra Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
“Everyone is projecting him as the prime ministerial candidate. How do we trust him to fight corruption [nationally] when the Lokayukta has not been set up in Gujarat?” asked Mr. Hazare at a press conference.
However, when asked why he did not question the Nitish Kumar government on scams in Bihar, Mr. Hazare refrained from commenting.
Demanding a “strong” Lokpal, Mr. Hazare rejected the Union Cabinet’s amended Bill, terming the process a “farce.”
Mr. Hazare said the UPA government was cheating people at every step with empty assurances.
“A joint committee was formed [in 2011] with representatives from the government and civil society. They [government] objected at first saying why we wanted outside people in the committee. It was appalling. The outside people were the citizens, who are the masters in democracy. The meetings lasted three months, but they did a U-turn. Then the Bill went to the Cabinet, where the government again went back on its word.”
“The Prime Minister himself gave in writing that they had agreed to our demands, but when a resolution was brought in Parliament, the government again did a U-turn. This is plain betrayal,” the activist said.
He called for autonomy for the CBI and the Central Vigilance Commission on the lines of the Election Commission. “Unless the government’s hold on the CBI ends, we will not be able to rein in corruption,” Mr. Hazare said.
The activist, who launched the Jantantra Morcha on Wednesday, will be holding rallies in four States, including Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, in February. From March, he will tour the remaining States.
The Opposition parties in Bihar, namely the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP), termed Mr. Hazare’s andolan “a flop show.”
“Mr. Hazare’s magic has waned because he is fighting a political party instead of corruption. He demanded the Prime Minister’s resignation in connection with the coal scam, but has not sought Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s resignation in the light of the scams in Bihar. He has, in fact, remained silent on corruption in Bihar. People have seen through his double standards,” an LJP statement said.