Anna Hazare to begin his hunger strike for competent Lokpal, betterment of farmers in Delhi today
New Delhi, March 23: Gandhian activist Anna Hazare is back, literally. Seven years since the 2011 anti-corruption movement, which he led from the front, Hazare is once again going to start his indefinite hunger strike in the national capital beginning from Friday. The venue of his hunger strike will be Delhi's iconic Ram Lila Maidan. While his earlier "Satyagraha" was against the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, this time the target of his movement is the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
Some of the main demands of Hazare are a competent Lokpal and better production cost for farm produce. As a part of his anti-corruption crusade in 2011, Hazare sat on a fast at the Ram Lila Maidan to demand that the then government set up a Lokpal to investigate cases of corruption. Back then, his movement got a nationwide support and thousands of protesters joined Hazare in his agitation. The Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal was also a part of the 2011 anti-corruption agitation. Later he broke ties with Hazare and formed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Hazare has been pressing for setting up of the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states, besides implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report, which has suggested ways to address the agrarian distress. Hazare previously has accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance government of not appointing the Lokpal to investigate the cases of corruption, despite having a law in place.
"Anna will first visit the Rajghat and then come to the Ram Lila Maidan, where he will go an indefinite strike," said an aide of Hazare. The day, March 23, has been chosen on purpose as Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hanged to death on this day by the British, the aide said.
A core committee meeting of Hazare's trusted aides and representatives of farmers' organisations took place at the New Maharashtra Sadan in the national capital on Wednesday. The Delhi Police on Thursday gave permission to the social activist to start his protest campaign at the Ramlila Maidan from Friday.
According to his aides, thousands of his supporters will be a part of his protest rally in the national capital. Earlier, ministers in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's government in Maharashtra asked Hazare to call off his hunger strike. However, he refused to do so. The 80-year-old activist said that he would fast until the Modi government came up with a concrete proposal to empower the Lokpal.
A total of 6,000 people are a part of the Hazare team who are all set to protest against the various policies of the ruling regime. Around 31 apolitical farmer associations from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh are backing Hazare in his crusade. N Santosh Hegde, retired Supreme Court judge and former Karnataka Lokayukta, will also join Hazare in his protest.