Addressing a gathering of India Against Corruption volunteers in Bhubaneswar recently, anti- corruption crusader, Gandhian and social activist Anna Hazare said “Don’t look at the movement from a narrow viewpoint. We want dedicated activists even if their number is 10,” he said. Activists should stay grounded, Mr. Hazare exhorted. Earlier, on his arrival at the Biju Patnaik Airport Hazare was accorded a grand welcome and taken out in a motorcycle rally through the city. Activists competed among themselves to stay close to Mr. Hazare. Those who lagged behind tried to muscle their way to the front and share the camera with the well-known social activist. In this context, Anna Hazare said, “In my life I have never tried to come before the camera. That’s why I have reached this stage. Those who fight for camera attention, they cannot help others.” The 75-year-old anti-corruption crusader described the movement launched by him as another freedom struggle and urged the youth to be prepared for sacrifice for the country. “This is a struggle for the next 15 to 20 years. One has to be prepared to go to jail, suffer baton and even bullets,” Hazare said.
During his three-day visit of Odisha, where he was scheduled to attend a farmers’ meet in Jagatsinghpur district, about 100 km east of Bhubaneswar, and interact with students in an engineering college in Bhubaneswar, Hazare said India could reduce corruption to 65 per cent just by bringing the Lokpal. “Besides, if right to reject and Gram Sabha concept are effectively implemented, it will reduce to 95 per cent,” he said.
Anna Hazare opposed the entry of foreign companies in India, including steel major POSCO, saying such investors were exploiting the country’s natural resources for their own gain in the name of setting up industries.
“A brake should be put on entry of all foreign companies including POSCO in the country as they come and exploit our resources and loot farmers’ land for their gain,” the Gandhian told a farmers’ rally. Hazare alleged that the Central and State governments were deciding sites for establishment of industries without consulting the affected people. “Farming and non-farming lands are being snatched forcibly and handed over to companies against the wishes of the peasants,” he said.
“When land losers and uprooted farmers raise a voice of protest, their agitations are suppressed by lathis and bullets,” said the votary of a strong Jan Lokpal. Maintaining that village committees and not the Government should decide on acquisition of land for industries, he said the Government must remember that people are the sole owners of the land. Asking people, particularly farmers, to get united to fight against attempts at forcible acquisition of their land, Hazare said a sustained movement was required to ensure a corruption-free society. “If farmers get united, the Government will be forced to bring a strong Jan Lokpal Bill. If it is implemented, it will reduce corruption by 65 per cent,” he said.
Unveiling a road map to strengthen his movement to have a strong Jan Lokpal, the Gandhian said he would embark upon a country-wide tour from January 13 to unite people and peasants to fight corruption. To mount pressure on the government for having a strong Jan Lokpal Bill, he said, people associated with the movement would gherao Parliament and state assemblies on March 13 next year if such a law was not enacted by then.
“Unfortunately, people are forgetting that they are the real masters while ministers and bureaucrats are their servants. Since the real masters are sleeping, servants are looting,” he said.
He also hinted at conditional support to the newly formed Aam Aadmi Party if its founder Arvind Kejriwal fielded right candidates in the elections. Anna Hazare said he recently asked Kejriwal to select good people. “I will cross-check (the background of) those selected. If I find them good, I will support the candidates and campaign for them,” Hazare said, adding that good people should go to Parliament. He said the paths opted by Kejriwal and him were different but the goal was the same.
Anna Hazare stressed on 5 points that are crucial to human life : the character of a man should be spotless, he should sacrifice a little, he should have good behaviour, his conduct should be good and he should have the power to take insults. Hazare said “if someone insults you then don’t insult him in retaliation but try to be patient and learn to digest it. Be humble. All the difficulties that you cross will lead to happiness at the end”.
Regarding the interlinking of rivers, Anna said that rivers have their own natural course of flow and it should not be interlinked. Rivers flow in a perennial way. He stressed the fact that all elected representatives should have a good and blemish-free character, they should serve humanity and they should be truthful in their deeds. The Government should protect the interests of farmers first. The concerns of farmers should be given priority.
At a meeting at an Engineering College, where Anna Hazare was the Chief Guest, the Chief Speaker, Santosh Bhartiya, Editor in Chief of Chauthi Duniya encouraged students to come up with new ideas and aspirations to join the Lok and Rajya Sabha. “Ours is a welfare state but the present Government has made it a market-oriented Government where the citizens have to pay many types of taxes”, he said.
-Somalika Sahoo and Bibhuti Pati