With corruption cases in the country rising by leaps and bounds, the people of India saw a ray of hope in the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill movement, spearheaded by noted social activist Anna Hazare. Swati Chaturvedi of Zeenews.com chats with Anna Hazare and a prominent member of his team, Arvind Kejriwal, on various issue related with the Lokpal Bill in her chat show, ‘Kahiye Janab’. Here are the excerpts:
Swati: You were fasting for the Lokpal Bill in April but still nothing substantial has come up. Do you think government has made a fool out of you for three months?
Anna: Government has not fooled me but the people of India and the youth who support me. They said, they will make a joint committee to look into Lokpal, but now they are backtracking. This is cheating on their part. We are considering restarting the fast at Jantar Mantar. I have decided to fast for this cause till the last breath of my life.
Swati: Government has alleged that you are acting like a dictator. They say that you are not an elected representative. What do you have to say on that?
Anna: I live in a temple in an 8' by 10' room which only has basic facilities. How can I be a dictator? The whole country knows who is a dictator. People who are holding power are dictators.
Swati: Arvind, you have stood by Anna in his fight against corruption. Now, it seems government is toning down the bill. Why do they want an ineffective Lokpal without any powers?
Arvind: People in power think that since they have been elected, so they have the right to rob people for the next five years. They will not listen to anybody. If there is a strong Lokpal Bill then a lot of people involved in formulating it would go to jail. Do you expect them to sign their suicide note?
Swati: Why has the government wasted so much time in formulating the bill?
Arvind: We were all in the panel. If the government had tried to bring a strong bill, it would have been a great opportunity for them to project a positive image. But the government resorted to cheap tactics and conspiracies to scuttle the movement. First, there was the CD issue and then the Ramdev crackdown. The government has become so arrogant that they think they can do anything and get away with it.
Swati: Government says that you are not an elected representative. If they resort to the same tactics to spoil your movement, then what will you do?
Anna: I am not scared of death. I will fight till my last breath. When I was in the army, I fought a war with Pakistan. It is time to fight the hidden enemy inside.
Swati: What do you mean when you termed your movement as the nation’s ‘second freedom struggle’?
Anna: Congress is watching the world with tinted glasses that is why they are unable to understand this. Who has got freedom? Has corruption, terrorism and crime ended? No, then where is the freedom? We want the people to get a corruption and terror free country and that is why it is the second freedom struggle. But, they are trying to delay it.
Swati: Congress alleges that you are the face of RSS. Is Anna Hazare under anybody’s control?
Anna: They are scared of the mass support that I have got. This is why they are trying to associate me with random people and organisations. I have never been associated with any organisation in my life. On what basis are they making these false charges?
Swati: Do you feel the need to break the myth that Arvind Kejriwal and rest of the team controls Anna Hazare?
Arvind: Government is not ready to discuss the real issues. Rather they want us to indulge in slugfest and mudslinging. We don’t want to do that. So, they are saying all this to divert the attention of the people.
Swati: When Lokpal Bill first came in Parliament during UPA-I, PM Manmohan Singh voluntarily agreed to keep the post of Prime Minister under its ambit. Why are they backtracking now?
Arvind: This is what is surprising. They say we are not elected members, but I assure you that we will never fight elections.
Anna: The government lacks will power. They don’t want to end corruption. This is the main reason why they are trying to shift the focus elsewhere. This policy is not good for the country.
Swati: There was a smear campaign against you when you started the movement. It is alleged that you only know simple solutions and are not well aware of the modern developed India. Your take on that.
Anna: The people who allege that should come and see my work. And what am I asking for myself? Corruption is a problem that is affecting everyone. If we are fighting against it then what is the problem?
Swati: When the Bhushans’ CD came, did you doubt the people in your team?
Anna: That was just a conspiracy by the government to divert the attention of the people from the main issue. But people of this country are not fools. They understand everything.
Swati: What are the issues that the government is not ready to bend on?
Arvind: Government is not ready to bend on anything. The Lokpal that they have proposed is only a ‘Joke-pal’. They are saying that there will be an 11-member committee which will be the final authority. How can only 11 people be able to deal with lakhs of cases? This is laughable. Government is not ready to delegate powers to the subordinate officers.
Swati: What will Anna Hazare do if the government forcefully presents its version of Lokpal Bill? What is your message to the youth of this country?
Anna: If government presents its version of Lokpal Bill then Anna Hazare will once again sit on a fast in Jantar Mantar. I appeal to the youth of this country that they are the real power and the future. They should never forget the sacrifice of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru and must unite to fight the menace of corruption.
Arvind: I appeal to the youth of this country that if you want to end corruption and are ready for a non-violent protest, even if the government forcibly tries to curb the movement, then you must contact us and join the fight. This is a fight for our future.
Adapted by: Sharique N Siddiquie