Anna Hazare holds protest in Delhi; CM Arvind Kejriwal to participate today

By: | Published: February 24, 2015 8:39 AM

Anna Hazare, who shook the UPA government three years ago with his anti-corruption crusade...

Anna Hazare, who shook the UPA government three years ago with his anti-corruption crusade, was back in the national capital today on a two-day dharna in which Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will join him tomorrow to protest against Modi government’s land ordinance, accusing it of being pro-corporate.

A “jail-bharo (fill the jails)” movement will be launched from the Ramlila Ground here in three to four months at the end of a “padyatra” across the country, the 77-year-old Gandhian announced at Jantar Mantar, the reserved spot for agitations.

Attacking the land ordinance, Hazare said BJP had promised “acche din” (good days) to the people during the elections but good days had come only to corporates.

“This is land-grab. Britishers used to do it. Today’s government is worse than the British regime. Even Britishers did not met out so much injustice to farmers,” he said.

In December last year, the government had promulgated an ordinance making significant changes in the Land Acquisition Act including removal of consent clause for acquiring land for five areas of industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence use.

Kejriwal, who had broken up with Hazare and formed his AAP, met the Gandhian after almost a gap two years and told him about his wish to participate in the dharna, probably a symbolic protest tomorrow afternoon.

While Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia parried questions whether Kejriwal would share the stage, Hazare had earlier said that AAP leaders were welcome to sit with the protesters.

Earlier in his address at Jantar Mantar, Hazare said the 2013 Land Acquisition Act said unless 70 per cent of the villagers where the land has to be acquired give their consent, the land cannot be acquired.

“But this government removed this provision. This has been done for the benefit of corporates.

“Before the elections, the people were promised ‘acche din’ (good days), they trusted (the party) and voted for them. Today they are forcibly taking away the land from farmers. So ‘acche din’ are for the corporates not for the common man,” Hazare said.

He said BJP faced a drubbing in Delhi assembly elections as “they promised achche din, but it came only for corporate giants.”

“What I think is that you peole (BJP) gave only false promises before election, including depositing Rs 15 lakh in everybody’s account by brining back black money. This false promise triggered a wave. Forget Rs 15 lakh, forget even Rs 15,000, not even a single person could get Rs 15 in his account,” said Hazare.

Slamming the Centre for the “unjust and undemocratic” law, he said the land ordinance must be withdrawn immediately.

“After Independence, this is for the first time, the farmers are facing so much of injustice under the current government after it brought the ordinance on the Land Acquisition,” he said.

Hazare said he will not allow AAP or Congress to share stage with him at the protest venue but anyone from the two parties can join the protest along with the common people.

“They will be not be allowed to share the stage because if I allow, then it will become a party event. They are free to join the crowd. No one can stop them.

“On 26th January, 1950, by virtue of becoming a Republic, people of this country had become masters and the government its ‘sewak’ but now the roles have reversed and the ‘sewak’ have become the masters,” he said.

The social activist, who was joined by hundreds of supporters and Narmada Bachao movement activist Medha Patkar, said he will take the movement to each and every district of the country.

Hazare called it a “second fight for freedom” and said people must be willing to make sacrifices for the cause.

“How can you take away land without a farmer’s consent? India is an agricultural country. The government must think about the farmers. The land ordinance is undemocratic,” he said.

“The government cannot be so indifferent to the farmers’ interest. This is government of people of India and not of England or America. It is the people who have made the government,” he said demanding “complete recall” of the ordinance.

Terming it as a very serious issue, Hazare said he will take the agitation across the country and will come back to the Ramlila Ground if the government does not heed to farmers’ demand.

“People in the villages are still not aware of this (amendments). Now, we will make people of every state and district aware of the provisions (of the ordinance). It is important to reach out to every district,” he said.

Hazare said that after 3-4 months of padayatra at district and block level across the country, a “jail-bharo” movement will be launched from Ramlila Ground.

“Jail for me is like jewellery. We don’t need silver or gold for ornamentation, it is this fight for truth that gives us the same. And, we all must be willing to go to jail for fighting injustice. Lathi khani padegi, jail jana padega,” he said.

Addressing the gathering, Patkar said “we need Ralegan Siddhi model and not the Gujarat model of development which has left Saurashtra thirsty.”

She said “it’s an ordinance that will lead to death of farmers.”

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