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32 Letters and Five Years Later, Anna Hazare Begins Yet Another Fast for Lokpal

Anna Hazare's decision to sit on indefinite hunger strike from Wednesday comes after 32 letters to the central government, several reminders and patience of five years bore no fruit.

Vinaya Deshpande | CNN-News18

Updated:January 30, 2019, 6:24 PM IST
Anna Hazare
Veteran social activist Anna Hazare. (Reuters File Photo)

Mumbai: On Wednesday morning, nearly 200 km away from Mumbai, an octogenarian sought blessings of a local saint at Sant Yadav Baba temple near Ralegan Siddhi. As he bowed down, he thought of the struggles in the last five years and the frustration that came with it. After seeking the blessings of Sant Yadav Baba, Anna Hazare, now 81, sat on an indefinite hunger strike.

His decision for hunger strike comes after 32 letters, several reminders and patience of five years bore no fruit. On his mind was the roaring success of his 2011 protest, which caused massive public outrage against the then government. This time, the massive support seems to have fizzled out.

“Dear Mr Narendra Modi, I am frustrated by the fact that six years after a historic public protest to make India corruption-free, there is no implementation of the law. I had postponed my protest which was to be held on August 28, after a written assurance from you. But I now write to you in frustration. After you came to power, for three years, I have been corresponding with you about the appointment of Lokpal and Lokayukta,” Hazare wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 30, 2017.

He wrote the letter after the government failed to appoint Lokpal and Lokayukta, despite a written assurance to him. His demand for implementation of Swaminathan commission report, also did not yield any favourable response.

This wasn’t the first time he had written to Modi. Before this letter, which was also marked to the President, the Speaker of Lok Sabha and the Chairperson of Rajya Sabha, Hazare had written to the Prime Minister at least six more times.

The correspondence, which began on August 28, 2014, went on till January this year. Anna has said he has written 32 letters in total to the government. Before August 2017, he wrote to the PM in October 2014, January 2015, January 2016, January 2017 and March 2017.

In February last year, Anna wrote to the Prime Minister yet again, saying, "There is need for a comprehensive agriculture policy. Farmers above 60 years of age should get pension and there should be proper policy to regulate credit to farmers. A policy for the import and export of agricultural produce is also necessary and there should be farm loan waiver for all farmers."

In a letter that he wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind earlier this month, Hazare stated that the country was possibly moving towards dictatorship. “I send you this request letter as I do not want this country to move towards dictatorship. This government is unwilling to abide by the Lokpal, Lokayukta Law. The Modi government is going against the ingrained principles of democracy,” he wrote.

The social activist claimed that despite consistently following up with the government, his efforts didn’t yield any results. “Lokpal in the Centre and Lokayukta in each State. This is what I had sought. In 2011, the whole country had stood up for it. The law had to be legislated because of that. In 2013, a law was made. In 2014, Modi came to power. We felt that Lokpal will reign in corruption. But it has been five years. They have only been giving reasons. I have written to them 32 times. So, now, I have decided that I will sit on hunger strike,” Hazare said earlier this month.

Hundreds of activists from Maharashtra, and some from Delhi, have joined his protest. “Activists from 88 zilas and 22 districts have joined the protest. A candle march will be held at 7 pm on Wednesday. Anna will decide the course of protest after that,” his office said.

Meanwhile, a team of doctors continues to monitor Hazare’s health. The question this time is, will the government listen to the frail octogenarian?

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