Not Joining Politics: Anna Hazare

Harish Joshi/Ralegan Siddhi (Maha)
Not Joining Politics: Anna Hazare
Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare today ruled out his joining politics or his movement taking a political turn.

"Absolutely not. I am taking extreme care to keep the anti-corruption movement free of politics. There is absolutely no such possibility," the 74-year-old activist told PTI in an interview.

He was replying to a question whether his movement against corruption for a Jan Lokpal Bill could slowly take political hues following the recent announcement of Team Anna asking people to vote out MPs opposed to their version of the law in the next Parliament elections.

Hazare, however, minced no words in branding the proposed anti-corruption "yatra" being launched by senior BJP leader L K Advani as the one designed to derive political mileage.

"If this yatra is aimed at rooting out corruption , why do not they oppose the ruling party and bring the Jan Lokpal bill? If they are sincere in their fight against corruption why can't they set up 'Lokayukta' in BJP-ruled states? We suspect a political motive in this yatra", he said reacting to Advani's announcement on embarking on a country-wide yatra against corruption.

Asked about Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi's statement that Lokpal should have Constitutional status on the lines of Election Commission, Hazare said, "both Lokpal and Election Commissioner would have the autonomous status without government interference in their functioning".

Hazare also strongly refuted the allegation of Congress leader Digvijay Singh that his anti-corruption movement was based on the support from RSS and the claim by VHP leader Ashok Singhal that his organisation had backed it.

"Our movement has nothing to do with RSS or VHP. All this is being talked to mislead the people," he said.

On the anti-corruption initiatives by Ramdev, Hazare said he did not doubt the yoga guru's commitment to the cause of eradication of corruption from public life.

"But on his dais sit those who carry a stamp. Our support to him is limited only to the anti-corruption aspect. We will not share his platform and he will not share our dais. We will support each other in separate ways to fight corruption," he said.

Elaborating on the issues he wanted to be included in the resolution adopted by Parliament to break the deadlock over his recent fast, he said, "we wanted these three points to be adopted to create confidence among people about the Bill's scope which should ultimately bring Prime Minister, judiciary and MPs in its ambit after due deliberations."

Asked whether he was happy with the way Parliament responded to his agitation, he said he will not be satisfied until and unless Lokpal Bill is made a law.

Hazare said he agreed to the time-frame of the Winter session for the bill to be passed in Parliament because of the "written undertaking" given by the government. "Since it was a written undertaking, I put my faith in it, agreeing to the time frame," he said.

Asked how he could accept the mediation of Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, facing allegations in Adarsh scam, to end his 12-day fast, Hazare said, "I had not entertained him at Ramlila Maidan as Vilasrao Deshmukh. I had not invited him there. I just accepted the letter from the Prime Minister which he delivered to me as an emissary of Manmohan Singh," he said.

Asked whether the negotiations carried on with the government by his team members during the course of his fast had his approval, Hazare answered in the affirmative.

He also did not want to read much into Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sending bouquet to him wishing speedy recovery while he was in a hospital after breaking his 12-day fast.

"The bouquet that I received in the hospital was sent by Prime Minister's office as a matter of procedure," he said.

Hazare was asked what course would he follow if he developed differences with his team members.

"We had no differences of opinion in the past and would not have any differences in future. Friction happens when people are selfish and greedy. All my team members are fighting for a cause with a selfless commitment," he said.

On Kiran Bedi's mocking of MPs, he said, "she just expressed her feelings while mimicking MPs at Ramlila Maidan. Some MPs behave unscrupulously. She will give a reply to the notice of preach of privilege if she gets it".
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