Ahmedabad, May 26: After praising Chief Minister Narendra Modi for developmental work in Gujarat, Social activist Anna Hazare today did a U-turn saying he was dismayed at the levels of corruption in the state.
Hazare, who had faced criticism for praising Modi, observed that corruption was rampant in Gujarat and wrly said it has not even spared the state of Mahatma Gandhi. The anti-graft crusader also said liquor flows more freely than milk in Gandhi's Gujarat where a prohibition law is in force.
“After coming here, I have realised that there are so many corruption cases here. So much corruption in Gandhiji's state,” he said and urged Modi to quickly appoint a Lokayukta in Gujarat.
Hazare, a member of the Jan Lok Pal Bill drafting team, made these remarks during a public hearing by various civil society groups held at Gujarat Vidyapeeth here. “Firstly bring Lokayukta here to empower the people and secondly give power to the Gram Sabhas,” he said. A law empowering gram sabhas is required in taking decisions regarding village land.
Taking another swipe at Modi, Hazare said, “In Gandhiji's state so much alcohol. Gujarat has more alcohol than it has milk,” he said. Gujarat is one of the leading milk producing states in the country.
Hazare had earlier said that state chief ministers must learn from the work done by the chief ministers of Gujarat and Bihar.
His praise of Modi had fuelled a controversy and also came up for criticism from his own followers like social activist Medha Patkar. Hazare later sought to “clarify” that he was opposed to communalism.
Swami Agnivesh, another member of the Jan Lok Pal Bill drafting team, said the public hearing has exposed the false claims of Gujarat government over development. “Gujarat is not vibrant as shown by Modi. Gujarat is the land of scams. Gandhi's Gujarat is now ‘Ghotale ka Gujarat' (state of scams),” Agnivesh said. RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal, also a Jan Lok Pal Bill drafting team member, said if farmers' land was forcefully acquired by government for industrialists it could lead to a civil war.
Hazare said the gram sabhas (village councils), which are the roots of society, are needed to be strengthened in Gujarat on grounds of Maharashtra, adding that they only build the legislature.
“I would like to make two appeals to Chief Minister Narendra Modi. First is to appoint the Lokayukta in the state, and second to bring in a legislation that would empower the gram sabhas in taking decisions related to the village, especially those dealing with the village land,” Hazare said. He said after the drive to weed out corruption, his next assignment would be against land acquisition and he wanted it to start from Gujarat.
“Gram Sabhas should be so empowered that no transaction related to the village land could be done without their permission. And I think this movement should start from Gujarat,” he added.
Hazare said the country may face threat from Pakistan, but it faces more grievous threat from enemies within the country.
He also warned the Union government of repeating Delhi type agitation of April 5, if it tries to delay Jan Lokpal Bill. PTI