Amidst thousands of supporters cheering the victory of the Jan Lokpal, Anna Hazare broke his fast on the 13th day but said, “the fight will go on”. His closest man and member of the Civil Society, Arvind Kejriwal, regards the movement of the masses as a milestone in the Indian democracy as it will create “the fear of people in the minds of those who run the system”.
 
In an interview to Dainik Jagran Special Correspondent, Mukesh Kejriwal, the simple man talked freely on the movement. Excerpts of the interview:

Q. What will be the impact of the movement on the political debates in the country?

A. Anna’s movement will strengthen the roots of the democracy. The movement was just for a single bill but the enormous uprising of the masses has challenged the corruption prevailing in our mechanism. It has raised fear of people power in the minds of those who run the system.

It has also exposed serious flaws in our current system. Voting just once in five years and responsibility over? This is not justified, continuous participation is required. Why will the Parliament listen to people only in elections? Why not consult people in gram sabha and town meetings before making any law. The public must be involved on a daily basis.

Q. Till what extent can fasting of Anna be considered successful in his motive?
A. The movement has just completed one more phase. The first phase was Anna’s fast on April 5. The second phase was the core drafting committee. The third phase was reaching the Ramlila Maidan and now we have completed the fourth phase with the proposal being passed in the Parliament.

Q. How will the movement proceed in future?

A. Anna has made it clear that the movement will continue till the Jan Lokpal Bill is passed in the Parliament. The further strategy will be decided in our core committee meeting. He has also made it clear that this movement will not be limited to the Jan Lokpal but we will also fight for electoral reforms, judicial reforms and decentralisation of power. We will always be among the public to fight for these issues.

Q. Opponents accused you of converting people’s power (democracy) into crowd power?
A. Is it fair to call people assembling to express their opinion a crowd?  Is not maximum participation of people what democracy means? Can the public not raise its voice for the democratic values in a peaceful and lawful manner?

Q. The government was saying that you were blackmailing by fast to pass the Bill?
A. Anna was not fond of fasting but the 74-year old was forced to sit on a hunger strike. Since 42 years, the people were expecting the government to do something. In the last ten months, Anna had written several times to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairman Sonia Gandhi but the government turned a deaf ear to our demands. Till when the country will allow this freedom of corruption?

Q. But it is the duty of the Parliament to make a law?
A. People with this opinion need to think again. Is it real democracy to limit the right of law-making to a handful of people? The real democracy is one in which the people from every nook and corner are consulted before making any law. Only what people want must become the law.
Leave aside advice, they do not even think once for the people but blindly follow the orders of the party high command.

A fresh example of such an attitude is when being the Chairman of the Lokpal core drafting committee, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had asked the opinions of the Chief Ministers of the states on six issues. We were ashamed to see that the Congress-ruled states said that as the party high command says, they will follow suit. Some CMs even said that how can they imagine to think differently from the party high command. Do they have a duty only towards their party high command, not towards their people!

Q. You proposed a draft and said that this was the only way out?
A. We, the people have a right to pressurise the government to run according to us. We never said there cannot be any change in the draft. We took people’s opinions from various places. Ten times we changed our format. Still, during the April fast, it was our condition to discuss on the proposal but the government’s intentions were not clear. We talked on minor issues in seven meetings. And suddenly the table was turned over. They said the conference is over and lets debate in public.

Q. Is it true that your movement is against the politicians?
A. Many people say many things during the movement. It can be true that some people made such comments against some leaders or parties but we never said that all leaders are corrupt.

Q. During the movement, differences were publically visible in the core committee.  It seems that you were the hardliner?
A. It is not a group of stable-minded people or those sticking to their roots. During the movement, there was neither any ban on speaking nor any request to speak the same.

Q. Your opponents say that you used Anna?

A. (Laughing) Anna is of the nation. Whosoever desires, can use him in the nation’s interest.

Q. You must be having political ambitions?

A. We all are in politics. This whole movement is political. But I have no intentions to be a part of party politics nor do I have any political ambition.

(JPN)