Water conservationist Rajendra Singh’s outfit in eastern Rajasthan, the Tarun Bharat Sangh, held a three-day workshop (1-3 April) at it's headquarters at Bheerampur in Alwar. Inaugurated by Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and social activist, Anna Hazare, the meet had invited water specialists from across the country.
Social activist Anna Hazare, who is turning 80 next month remains in the agitation mode and disclosed to the gathering that he was ready to once again launch an agitation from Ramlila grounds in New Delhi. This time around, he plans to target the Narendra Modi government for it's unwillingness to appoint a Lokpal at the Centre.
Why do you want to start another round of agitation?
This has been on my mind for some time now. I even wrote a letter to prime minister Modi questioning why their government had shown so much apathy in appointing a Lokpal. My fast at Ramlila grounds in 2011 attracted nationwide attention and it was in response to our agitation that we succeeded in getting the Lokpal bill passed in Parliament. When the present government is showing no enthusiasm to appoint a Lokpal, then I have been left with no choice.
Have you fixed any dates for this agitation so far?
We will start it by July latest. When the Modi government came to power, I was hopeful that the demands for the implementation of the Lokpal Act would have been met but in the last three years this has not happened. I receive complaints about corruption from all around the country all the time.
So you will be sitting on fast from July?
That is my intention. I will go on a 'satyagraha'. I have been silent for three years but the promises that were made to me and the people have not been fulfilled. But before that, I hope to go south to express my support to the farmers whose land is being taken over by the Andhra Pradesh government to build the new capital city (Amravati). The government there is planning to take over prime agricultural land on the flood plains of the Krishna river. The government has been told to build the capital on a higher elevation.
I have told the farmers, if they are willing to die to protect their land, I will do a 'satyagraha'. The problem is that the Gram Sabhas have to give their clearance to the project but this is never obtained in advance. The Social Impact Assessment and the Environment Impact Assessments are also never done.
That is correct but what is the way out?
I have been emphasising for many years that land classification needs to be done on a war footing otherwise we are heading for a food, water and environmental crisis. The Modi government must classify land into different categories such as agricultural land, wetlands, forest land, water bodies and so on. Once this land is classified, then the land cannot be permitted to be converted under any circumstances. This law must apply across all parties because the need of the hour is to safeguard our agricultural land, our rivers and their catchment areas which are all connected to these agricultural lands in order to build food security.
The other reform I have been stressing upon is that we need to do away with political parties who are working only for themselves and not for the welfare of the people. The people must send their representatives directly to Parliament so they can work for the people. In 1947, we won our independence, in 1949, we got our Constitution and we held our first general elections in 1952. When the Constitution of India was created, the Election Commission of India should have abolished all the six or seven political parties who were active in pre-independent India. Today, just look at the number of political parties, the plethora of symbols of these parties.
Where have all these symbols come from? Things have to improve on the ground.
I have had five meetings with the Election Commission on the need to do away with political parties completely. I have held 550 sabhas and travelled 6,000 kilometres highlighting this issue.
I think what you are aspiring for, is very idealistic situation?
I am not giving a lecture. I have been doing social work for many decades now. People must develop a sense of sacrifice. Look at the sacrifice done by our rishis (saints) and munis of yore. Over nine lakh people have come to see the development work I have in Ralegaon Siddhi. These political parties are responsible for spreading the poison about caste and creed and such poisons.
Look at the number of scams our country is facing. There is the 'helicopter scam', the 'Vyapam ghotala' and so many others. I believe corruption has increased because of these symbols (of political parties). These parties are bribing voters with Rs 500 and a liquor bottle to get them to vote for them. The voters have been reduced to a state of slumber.
We have to enlighten the voters and make them aware that no lootera will be allowed to win. If we campaign strongly for this I believe by the time of the 2019 elections, people will be convinced and will vote for the best candidates.
That is why implementation of the Lokpal Bill is important for every citizen. I am working for the good of the country. Let this summer get over, then we will assemble at Ramlila grounds. I have no apprehension of death. We will end only when we bring about parivartan (change) and we will end our 'satyagraha' only when we achieve our goals.
Published Date: Apr 04, 2017 15:45 PM | Updated Date: Apr 04, 2017 15:45 PM