New Delhi: Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare has said that he is willing to back and campaign for any political outfit that is corruption-free and belongs to the non-Congress and non-BJP front. Talking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Anna said that he plans to restart his movement if Parliament's Standing Committee does not agree to his demands on the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Responding to a question whether he will support a political party that has clean people from all parties, Anna said, "Yes, I will support them, but I will not be a part of the leadership of that party. This is the only way we can save this country."
Defending his campaign, Anna said that the movement is not anti-Parliament, but against those blocking the Bill.
Anna also praised former prime minister Indira Gandhi, saying the country needs leaders like her who can work for the poor.
Taking a dig at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Anna said, "The Prime Minister lacks authority and nobody listens to him in his team."
Anna also made it clear that he will go from constituency to constituency asking people not to vote for the MPs who are against the Jan Lokpal Bill. "The MPs who are against it, we will sing bhajans outside their houses. I will go to their constituencies and tell people not to vote for them," Anna said.
Anna also admitted that asking for a death penalty for the corrupt was wrong. He said that those who are corrupt should be given life imprisonment.
Responding to allegations by the likes of Arundhati Roy, Anna claimed that there is no black money funding in his campaign.
When asked what will he do if he discovers that there is black money funding his movement, Anna said that he will back out of his movement. "If such a situation comes to light, I will back out of the movement. I will run this movement till it is blameless. Those who make such allegations are not always clean themselves," Anna said.
Here is an excerpt of the interview:
Rajdeep Sardesai: If the Standing Committee does not agree to what you say, will you again start the protest?
Anna Hazare: Yes, we will protest but not against Parliament. We will see those who oppose it in the Standing Committee and we will start singing bhajans in front of the houses of those Parliament members who are opposing such a nice bill which can improve the country and when elections come, I will go to the constituency of such members and tell the people not to vote for such members.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Isn’t that politics, asking people not to vote for a particular MP? Is Anna Hazare not gradually getting into politics?
Anna Hazare: No, not at all. There is no question of politics in this. We have to develop and improve the conditions in the country. Our country has got a bad name due to corruption, it is getting difficult for the aam aadmi to survive due to corruption, that is why we are making this effort, so no question of politics in this.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You are saying this movement is not taking a political turn, so next year when UP, Uttarakhand and Punjab elections will come will you go to such states and say that do not vote such people who are corrupt. Will you connect this movement against corruption to the elections?
Anna Hazare: Yes, Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha are sacred bodies and only sacred people should go in it. If corrupt people go then it is a threat to the democracy. That is why people have to be woken up and have to be told that they should not vote for the corrupt.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So if there is some corrupt contender in UP who has a criminal record against him, will you go and campaign there?
Anna Hazare: Of course.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So this is not politics?
Anna Hazare: What politics? If people elect such corrupt politicians in the Assembly who are a threat to the country then it is our duty to wake up people.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Nitin Gadkari says if Anna leads us we are ready to join him. Now LK Advani is going on a Yatra, don’t you think your movement is being politicised. Political parties want to take advantage of you?
Anna Hazare: That will happen. This happened many times in my life. When I protested during the Congress government, the BJP and Shiv Sena leaders came to me, the government went and the BJP-Shiv Sena came to power. The Congress did graduation and the latter got a doctorate.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Will you join any political Yatra like Advani's Yatra?
Anna Hazare: Absolutely not. If the BJP says they say they support Anna then they should bring the Lokayukta Bill in their states. First bring the Lokayukta.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So you don’t plan to tie up with the BJP? Some say you are seen closer to the BJP because you speak against the Congress and this movement seems to be anti-Congress.
Anna Hazare: Not at all. If the Congress feels so, they should not take the path of lie. Since the beginning of the movement they spoke lies, starting from the joint committee, then they put me in jail, what was all this, wasn’t that a conspiracy?
Rajdeep Sardesai: Who conspired against you? Do you think there was a cong MP behind this? You had named Chidambaram earlier or the Prime Minister conspired against you? Do you think the Prime Minister was misled?
Anna Hazare: I feel Manmohan Singh is not the only Prime Minister, a lot of people inside the Congress think they are the Prime Minister.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Do you think the Prime Minister was misled?
Anna Hazare: Who considers the Prime Minister important? He is remote controlled by many people. He is not allowed to do anything
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sonia Gandhi wanted you to join the drafting committee when you started the fast in April. Do you think Sonia Gandhi was misled or do you think that she is also a part of this conspiracy?
Anna Hazare: If they want to run the government, whether it is Sonia Gandhi or Manmohan Singh they will have to take people along with them. There was Indira Gandhi who worked for the poor in the country; she was elected as the Prime Minister. They should look at that.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You think the Prime Minister should learn from Indira Gandhi?
Anna Hazare: Absolutely.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You are referred to as a follower of Mahatama Gandhi, but a few days back you said that the corrupt should be hung. Gandhi never said that anybody should be hung to death.
Anna Hazare: That is why I took those words back but there should be life imprisonment for such corrupt people.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You are suggesting that the non-corrupt of the BJP, the Congress should come together and make one party and you will support them and lead them?
Anna Hazare: Absolutely. I will support them but not lead them. Because that’s the only solution to make a strong nation. The good people of all parties can come together and I will tell the people of the country to support them.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So why don’t you lead them?
Anna Hazare: No I don’t have the capacity. I am an ordinary man.
Rajdeep Sardesai: There is an allegation on the funding of this movement. Arundhati Roy writes editorials questioning the funding of the movement. Do you think it’s a matter of worry?
Anna Hazare: This is not a matter of worry for me. I will not allow black money in my movement against corruption.
Rajdeep Sardesai: If you get to know it is being used, how do you track funds in such a big movement? What will you do?
Anna Hazare: If I get to know that black money is used, I will not stay in this movement.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You will not stay in the movement?
Anna Hazare: Till the time I am associated with this movement, I want it to be clean. It should be spotless. People who write and say, are they honest? How can we believe they are honest? The colour of spectacles we wear, we see the world in that colour.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Have you told this to your team members? Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and everyone else that look the money that’s used should not be black money and should not come from corporates or industrialists who are corrupt themselves.
Anna Hazare: Yes, I have given a warning to all. I have told them that from April until now, we have a chartered accountant who audits the funds we use for this movement. One copy of that should be with me and other members should have it too.
Rajdeep Sardesai: I am saying because people are asking about you breaking your fast with Vilasrao Deshmukh. The same Vilasrao Deshmukh who was named in the Adarsh scam. You are seen compromising with these kinds of leaders.
Anna Hazare: That’s not true. I did not ask anyone to send him. He was sent as a representative of the Prime Minister. I spoke to him as the Prime Minister's representative. I am not suggesting that he is clean.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Do you really think our country can have a party full of clean people?
Anna Hazare: That is possible. All clean individuals of political parties can join it.