Anna comes out in Mamata’s support but with a rider

NEW DELHI (TIP): Having fallen out with Arvind Kejriwal after he floated AAP, social activist Anna Hazare on February 19 threw his weight behind Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who is eyeing a possible national role after the Lok Sabha elections.

A day after their one-on-one meeting in the national capital, Anna and Mamata appeared together before the media to send the message of their new-found partnership. Pointing that it is for the first time that he is supporting a political leader, Hazare said he deviated from his stand after witnessing Mamata’s political struggle and simple lifestyle even as chief minister.

“I had written a letter with my 17-point demands to all political parties but only Didi (Mamata) responded to it and agreed to implement it,” he said at the press conference where the backdrop read “sadgi, sachai, imaandari (simplicity, truthfulness and honesty).” But Hazare had a rider. He said his support to the TMC chief was limited to the few months of campaigning in the run-up to the polls and would end after the polls are over.

Hazare mentioned that he had also written to Kejriwal about his 17-point agenda, but the APP leader he did not bother to reply to it. He said everybody talks of “regime change”, but that will not change the state of the nation for the better which can happen only through “systemic change”. Hazare was not short of words of praise for the TMC chief, saying she has the integrity of character to bring about a systemic change. “So, I thought of supporting a political leader for once,” he said.

The anti-graft activist said he will be going around the country for the next five years to find at least 100 independent candidates with integrity of character for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “A hundred good people in Parliament can make a difference and bring about a change in the system that I am talking about,” he said.

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On her part, Mamata declared that she would consult Hazare on contestants from north and south Indian states including Delhi. The 17-point agenda that Hazare took up included legislations like protection to whistle-blowers and demand to make government decisions taken in all matters, except defence and foreign affairs, public after two months to bring in more transparency. His other demands include making villages as the nucleus before chalking out policies, land acquisition with farmers’ consent, major electoral changes like Right to Recall and Right to Reject and bringing back black money among other things. When asked whether he would oppose Kejriwal and BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Hazare said he would neither support nor oppose them.

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