'People asked me how long to go on with fasts'
Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has admitted that the public's enthusiasm for fasts has waned, as his team continues its indefinite strike for Day 3 at Jantar Mantar demanding a strong Lokpal Bill.
Hazare spoke to IBN-7 editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai in an exclusive interview and said he was ready to consider a political alternative if the people of India demanded one.
On the low turnout:
Many people came to me and asked how long to go on with these fasts. You have to give an alternative to the country. But I've not yet considered it. I think if I try to give an alternative or form a party then many people would accuse me that this was my ultimate goal.
On providing a political alternative:
Today, I'm not ready for it. I will visit different parts of the country and ask people for their opinion. If the people of this country want a political alternative then I will think about it. I will travel across the country. I will tell the people about all political parties.
Then I will suggest them an alternative -- to choose their own leaders. Select a person who has dedicated his life for society and social work. Select such a person and I will throw my support behind such people.
The time has come. Almost two years have passed since we demanded a strong Lokpal. Lokpal is not Anna Hazare's demand. It's your duty to remove corruption. Bring Lokpal or else we have to think about an alternative.
Everything rests on hope. Even Mahatma Gandhi had stepped backwards at times. I still hope that the good sense will prevail in the government and they will be ready to pass the Lokpal Bill. I'm hopeful.
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Image: Anna Hazare waves to his supporters in New Delhi
'15 ministers are blocking the Lokpal Bill'
On shifting focus:
Corruption is not going to stop after sending 15 corrupt ministers home. Six ministers in Maharshtra were removed because of me. But corruption did not stop there. Why are we talking about these 15 corrupt ministers? We came to a conclusion that as long as these corrupt ministers are there, the Lokpal Bill is not going to be passed.
Our main issue is the Lokpal. We are focused in our main goal. If the government is ready to bring Lokpal then we will not talk about these ministers.
Our fast is for Lokpal. But these 15 ministers are blocking the Lokpal. That's why we are talking about sending back these ministers. Our main issue was never about these ministers.
Image: Placards are seen on a sidewalk during a campaign in support of a controversial anti-corruption bill in New Delhi
Photographs: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters
'Pranab Mukherjee will have to face corruption allegations'
On Pranab Mukherjee:
As an individual Pranab Mukherjee will have to face the corruption allegations whatever existing against him. But the President is the highest post of this country and we have to respect that.
On electoral politics:
I'm confident that if we choose honest leaders from among the people, they can win. We are not going to collect money from people for these elections. People are also not going to expect money from us for their support, as they know we are fighting for them. We will create awareness against money and muscle power in elections.
On the movement being urban centric:
It's not right to say that support has reduced. Today this movement is going on in 500 districts of the country. We have reached out to villagers. The movement is not restricted to Jantar Mantar or Ramlila Maidan.
Image: President Pranab Mukherjee
'Don't want people to think that I started movement for power'
On divisions in Team Anna:
There might be two view points but we have to move ahead keeping people and society in mind. Be it Baba Ramdev, Medha Patkar or our team, we all have to fight this together.
I've no problem in standing by Baba Ramdev on the issue of fighting against corruption. We all have to come together to fight against corruption and our motto is to remove corruption from this country.
I don't know if Baba Ramdev is planning to form a political party.
On launching a political party:
We want to give a political alternative to the people. We will definitely consider forming a political party.
The people of this country have witnessed that no political party is concerned about eradicating corruption from this country.
I don't want people to think that Anna was running this movement just to get into a position of power.
Image: A Hazare supporter A supporter waves a flag during a protest in New Delhi July 25
Photographs: Ahmad Masood/Reuters
'Indulging in violence of words for interest of society'
I'm hopeful that Lokpal can remove corruption up to 60-65 per cent. If Lokpal will be established the common man will not be forced to pay bribe.
On using harsh words against politicians:
Using harsh words is also one kind of violence according to Mahatma Gandhi. Yes we are indulging in violence of words, but it is just for the interest of the society and this country.
On talking to the government (Salman Khurshid):
I did not know that these people will lie to such extent. He (Khurshid) came to talk to me and now he is denying it. I'm still ready for talk if the government wants a change in this country.
'Anna is nobody, hoping movement will continue without me'
On sustainability of the movement:
Anna is nobody. All the people who are working for the movement, we have to trust them. Idolisation of people in this country is a curse. I'm still hopeful that this movement will continue even without Anna.
On change of power:
Every party is running after money and power. It's important to provide a political alternative.
I believe it's time to provide a political party. I'm not going to be part of any party or support any party. But whoever comes forward to fight against corruption I will throw my support behind them.
Today everybody is saying you have to give a political alternative. Then I've to definitely think about it. I think people are ready to elect an honest man.
An honest man may lose in elections. But it's a fight. One should not be bothered about the win or the defeat.
I will provide a political alternative but I will not enter into politics.
Image: Supporters of Hazare shout slogans as they take part in a protest in New Delhi July 25
Photographs: Ahmad Masood/Reuters