Anna says Lokpal would have prevented Rafale 'scam'

He announces indefinite hunger strike
Last Updated 21 January 2019, 15:36 IST

Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike from January 30 to press for the appointment of Lokpal at the Centre and nationwide farmers' loan waiver ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Sharing dais with farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakkaji who led the farmers' stir in Madhya Pradesh in 2017, Hazare announced his decision at a press conference here on Monday and lashed out at the Modi government, accusing it of having “deceived” the people of the country by not implementing the Swaminathan committee recommendations for the welfare of the farmers and appointing the Lokpal so far.

He also alleged that there was “a scam” in the Rafale fighter jet deal with France, setting aside all the contentions put forth by the government in its defense so far.

While Hazare will start his fast-unto-death at his Ralegan Siddhi village in Maharashtra and continue it till the government fulfils his demands, the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasabha (RKM) activists will organise agitations all over the country including Karnataka in solidarity.

Over 180 non-government organisations of farmers, associated with the RKM, have extended their support to Hazare's hunger strike.

“Had Lokpal (ombudsman) been appointed, there would not have been a scam in the Rafale fighter jet deal,” Hazare told reporters.

Hazare said that he has got the documents pertaining to the Rafale plane deal recently.

“I will study it to go into finer details and hold a separate press conference on Rafale. But after seeing the documents, it appeared to me that the deal was not straight. There is a scam. They (government) can't say that there is no fact in it (that Rafale deal is a scam),” he added.

Hazare wondered on what basis the Anil Ambani's company would get a contract in the Rafale deal of worth crores of rupees while his company had “no prior experience” to execute such a project.

“Ambani's company was given contract of worth corers of rupees only a month after it came into existence. What was so special about his company?” he said, rejecting all the contentions put forth by the government so far in its defense.

He also asked why the government announced the Rafale deal without getting approval of the cabinet committee on security (CCS) first.

RKM leader Kakkaji said more “non-government and non-political” farmers outfits are expected to join the stir from almost every nook and corner of the country.

Apart from the appointment of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states as well as Farmers' loan waiver, Hazare's demands include pension for farmers, payment of 1.5 times of input cost of farmers produce, a law guaranteeing procurement of farmers produce.

“While the Lokpal Act was passed in December 2013, this government is yet to implement it. What kind of a government is this which does not obey the Supreme Court order? Is it a government, or some 'bania ki dukan' (provisional store),” Hazare said.

The anti-corruption crusader also accused the Modi government of trying to replace democratic polity with “an authoritarian regime” by not implementing the Lokpal Act which was passed by Parliament under a constitutional framework.

This will be his third hunger strike over the demand for Lokpal in the last seven years.

Hazare's anti-corruption movement in 2011 had shaken the erstwhile government of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) with millions of people all over the country lending their support to the movement.

His movement was one of the factors that contributed to the rout of the Congress in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

(Published 21 January 2019, 11:10 IST)

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