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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Anna’s new war cry: Defeat Congress

Making a direct attack on the Congress, Anna Hazare today said he will ask people to inflict a “comprehensive” defeat on the ruling party in the five election-bound states if the Centre fails to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Winter Session of Parliament.

Addressing a press conference in his native village Ralegan Siddhi along with Arvind Kejriwal, Hazare also threatened another fast. “I will go on a hunger strike for four days, starting three days before the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. It will be at Lucknow and only with the intention of appealing to voters in Uttar Pradesh to defeat the Congress.”

The tour of the five states — Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur — would begin between October 13 and 15. Team Anna members involved in planning this latest campaign have been asked to organise tours in Assembly segments from where the Congress won last time.

Terming Hazare’s remarks “unfortunate”, the Congress said the government was committed to setting up a strong and effective Lokpal and that he should not have any “pre-conceived notions”. “Anna on one hand is saying if Lokpal Bill is not passed in the Winter Session he will start a campaign against the Congress. But now he does not want to wait. It’s unfortunate,” Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.

“Every citizen has got the constitutional right to oppose or favour anyone... But even then these statements from Anna Hazare are regretful,” he said.

Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said Hazare should have faith in the “collective wisdom” of the nation, which is represented by Parliament, while Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said the government would bring the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Winter Session.

Hazare ruled out extending support to even any Congress candidate who has a clean image. “What is the advantage in electing a clean candidate if the party is not right? Is Manmohan Singh not clean? The problem is that he is remote-controlled,” he said.

Hazare said the onus was on the Congress to get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed as it was in power at the Centre, and accused it of “deliberately” delaying the same. “The Congress is merely saying it but not tabling the Jan Lokpal Bill. If the Centre fails to get the Bill passed in the Winter Session, I will appeal to voters in Uttar Pradesh and other states going for Assembly polls to not vote for the Congress. I will tour these states....”

Urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to face a probe in the 2G spectrum scam, Hazare said: “It is agnipariksha for him. Why should one fear that? If he emerges clean, it would be good.”

Asked whether he would support any other party, Hazare said they would not tell voters who to elect. “Citizens should vote for a candidate with a clean image and the one who is honest.” Those who accuse him of being a BJP or RSS supporter should be sent to a “mental hospital”, he added. “There is not a single instance that shows I have any association with the BJP or RSS.”

He emphasised it was wrong on the part of the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat to arrest Sanjeev Bhatt after he had filed an affidavit in the 2002 riots.

Hazare may also visit Hisar, where India Against Corruption is testing election waters for the first time, urging voters to only back parties which support the Jan Lokpal Bill. The seat is headed for a Lok Sabha bypoll on October 13.

The activist said that while other parties, including BJP president Nitin Gadkari, had written to the IAC vowing support to the Jan Lokpal Bill, the Congress has ignored their appeal.

“I will wait two more days for a letter from the Congress... then the appeal would be made to Hisar voters to shun the Congress candidate,” Hazare said. “If I am not able to go to Hisar, then I will appeal through a video message.”

He emphasised that his opposition to the Congress was limited to the issue of the Jan Lokpal Bill, and that if the Bill was passed, he would still go ahead with his campaign, asking people to elect people with integrity.

Asked about the ‘Mahatma’ title bestowed on him by the gram sabha of Ralegan Siddhi, Hazare said: “These are sentiments expressed by villagers... I am not eligible for such a title.”


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