Will return my Padma Bhushan if Modi govt doesn’t fulfil promises: Anna Hazare

Vastavam web: Social activist Anna Hazare, whose indefinite hunger strike entered the fifth day on Sunday, warned that if the Narendra Modi government did not fulfil its promises, he would return his Padma Bhushan. Earlier in the day, Bharatiya Janata Party ally Shiv Sena came out in Hazare’s support, urging him to emulate socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan and lead an agitation against corruption. Hazare has been on a hunger strike since last Wednesday at his native Ralegan Siddhi village in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, demanding appointments of Lokpal and Lokayuktas and resolution of farmers’ issue.

Hazare’s demands include immediate appointment of anti-corruption ombudsmen Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states, implementation of Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations for tackling agrarian distress and electoral reforms. In the morning, in support of the Army man-turned- activist’s demands, a group of farmers and youths blocked the Ahmednagar-Pune highway at Supa village in Parner tehsil, 38 km from here. The police tried to pacify the protesters and asked them to end the blockade as vehicles had backed up for around six km on both sides, Supa police station inspector Rajendra Bhosale said.

As many as 110 protesters were detained in the afternoon and released after the traffic resumed, Bhosale said. Around 5,000 farmers from the district are likely to stage a protect outside the Ahmednagar collector’s office on Monday to support Hazare’s agitation, his associates said. The decision to hold the protest was taken at a gram sabha (village meeting) at Ralegan Siddhi on Saturday night.

Leaders of various political parties from Parner tehsil were present at the meeting. Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray appealed to the BJP-led state government of which his party is a part — to intervene and asked it to not to “play” with Hazare’s life. Thackeray also asked Hazare to take to the streets instead of “giving up” his life, and urged him to emulate the role played by Narayan in the 1970s when the socialist leader took on the Indira Gandhi government.

Hazare had earlier declined to meet state government envoy and minister Girish Mahajan for talks. The anti-corruption crusader had told that he welcomed the Maharashtra cabinet’s decision to bring the office of the chief minister under the ambit of the Lokayukta.