Anna Hazare to launch new Lokpal protest early next year

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Veteran social activist Anna Hazare has decided to launch a protest in the national capital in January or February 2018 to agitate for the formation of Jan Lokpal in the country. Mr Hazare declared his decision after two days of meetings with followers at his village, Ralegan Siddhi, in Ahmednagar on Sunday.

Mr Hazare was in Delhi last week, when he gave indications about the agitation. Mr Hazare held meetings at Ralegaon Siddhi for the past two days to plan the rotest. A press release said it was decided in the meeting that Mr Hazare would lead the agitation in Delhi either in January or February, for the formation of Jan Lokpal.

“Though we have not decided the details of agitation, this will be a nationwide protest. Members from all states were present for the meeting. Anna himself guided the meeting about the protest. This time we will not stop until Lokpal is formed in the country,” said Sanjay Pathade, member of the Jan Andolan Office.

Mr Pathade is coordinating the protest and the Jan Andolan Office is supporting Mr Hazare and working with him. Mr Hazare had recently said, “Government is not responding to our demands seriously.”

Mr Hazare has been consistently demanding the formation of Jan Lokpal since 2012 to keep a check on corruption. He first went on hunger strike in the summer of 2012 when the then UPA 2 (United Progressive Alliance) government had accepted the demand in principle. Later in the same year, Mr Hazare launched a hunger fast in the month of August, which enjoyed huge popular support across the country. The UPA government in its last legs passed the Lokpal bill.

However, the new government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not appointed a Lokpal. The reason given from the government’s side is technical. According to the Lokpal Act, a committee of the Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Chief Justice of India or an SC judge nominated by him, should be formed and select the Lokpal. However, as there is no Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha at present, the committee could not be formed and the Lokpal could not be appointed. The central government cited the same reason in an affidavit it filed in the Supreme Court when replying to a public interest litigation.

“I have written many letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding formation of Lokpal. But he never replies. What option do we have than to go in public again?” Mr Hazare had said in Delhi.