Social activist Anna Hazare on Wednesday launched a hunger strike over the delay in appointment of a Lokpal at the Centre and the passage of the Lokayukta Act in Maharashtra, PTI reported.
Hazare offered prayers at the Padmavati Temple in his village Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district in the morning. He then took a procession to the the Yadavbaba Temple and began his hunger strike.
“It has been five years since the Lokpal Act was passed,” Hazare said. “Yet the Narendra Modi government has not appointed Lokpal...Lokayukta Act has not been passed in Maharashtra for four years,” the activist said in a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis dated January 28.
Hazare said Fadnavis had mediated when he had launched an agitation at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi in March last year. Hazare said he had decided to call off that agitation after the Centre assured in writing that it would fulfil his demands.
“Nine months have passed, yet the demands have not been fulfilled,” Hazare said in the letter. “Hence, I will be on hunger strike in my village Ralegan Siddhi on January 30.”
Hazare is considered the face of the Lokpal movement. This will be Hazare’s third hunger strike in eight years to demand a Lokpal. In 2011, he sat on a 12-day hunger strike, after which the then Congress-led government passed the Lokpal bill. In January 2014, then President Pranab Mukherjee granted assent to the law. A Lokpal has not been appointed yet.
Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan, who has been acting as an emissary between the state government and the activist, urged Hazare to call off the strike, claiming that almost all his demands have been fulfilled.
Hazare, however, said he would not call off the agitation till the Lokayukta Act becomes a reality.
“His first demand was implementing Swaminathan Commission recommendations, that farmers should get 1.5 times minimum support price,” Mahajan told reporters in Mumbai. “I think that demand has been fulfilled.”
Meanwhile, the state Cabinet on Tuesday brought the office of Maharashtra chief minister under the jurisdiction of Lokayukta, according to PTI. Hazare welcomed the decision, but said he will still continue with the hunger strike. “The agitation will go on until the act is in place.”
An eight-member search panel formed to select members of Lokpal held its first meeting on Tuesday, nearly four months after it was set up by the Modi government. The committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, reportedly discussed modalities related to the appointments of the chief and members of the Lokpal.