Mumbai: Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare on Thursday met Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray in Mumbai. During the meeting, Anna said that the institution of Lokayukta in Maharashtra should be an autonomous body like the Election Commission and free from government interference.

"Corruption is on the rise. It has become difficult for the common man to survive due to price rise...Setting up of Lokayukta would help curtail corruption. It should be an autonomous body like the Election Commission, High Court and Supreme Court and there should be no government interference," he said.

Hazare is in Mumbai to meet political leaders to muster support for a strong Lokayukta legislation in the state.

"Raj has expressed his willingness to support a strong and effective Lokayukta in Maharashtra," Hazare said.

He lauded Raj for initiatives like conducting examination for party candidates to contest the civic body polls, held in February.

He expressed confidence that 60-65 per cent corrupt activities would be curtailed because of the Lokayukta.

The veteran social activist also reiterated his demand for the 'Right to Reject' a candidate during elections.

If people do not like a particular candidate there should be an option of Right to Reject, which would pave way for re-elections and purity in politics, he said.

On reports that Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has refused to meet him, Hazare said, "If he is not meeting me, it will not affect me. I am not meeting him for my selfish interest. I am meeting him as the issue (Lokayukta) is important for the state."

Contribution and support of all political parties is needed to bring in a strong Lokayukta legislation, he said.

Terming all politicians as "bad" is not justifiable, he said. Raj said he supports a strong Lokayukta to check corruption. "I support a strong Lokayukta in the state. Otherwise, it will be difficult to stop corruption," he said.

Hazare should pay more attention in the state rather than at the national level, Raj said.

"Most parts of western Maharashtra are facing drought and therefore, I asked him to pay more attention here. The situation in the state is very bad. Politicians from western Maharashtra have failed in tackling drought in their region," the MNS head said.

The chief minister should also be brought under the ambit of Lokayukta, he said.

In an apparent reference to Hazare meeting other political leaders on Lokayukta, he said, "What is the use of meeting dacoits to reduce dacoity."

(JPN/Agencies)