RALEGAN SIDDHI, Maharashtra — Social activist Anna Hazare, whose indefinite hunger strike entered the fifth day on Sunday, warned that if the Narendra Modi government did not fulfil its promises, he would return his Padma Bhushan.
Earlier in the day, Bharatiya Janata Party ally Shiv Sena came out in Hazare’s support, urging him to emulate socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan and lead an agitation against corruption.
Hazare has been on a hunger strike since last Wednesday at his native Ralegan Siddhi village in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, demanding appointments of Lokpal and Lokayuktas and resolution of farmers’ issue.
“If this government does not fulfil its promises made to the country in the next few days, I will return my Padma Bhushan,” he told PTI Sunday evening. ”(The) Modi government has breached the faith of people.
The 81-year-old was awarded the third-highest civilian honour of the country in 1992.
Hazare’s demands include immediate appointment of anti-corruption ombudsmen Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states, implementation of Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations for tackling agrarian distress and electoral reforms.
In the morning, in support of the Army man-turned- activist’s demands, a group of farmers and youths blocked the Ahmednagar-Pune highway at Supa village in Parner tehsil, 38 km from here.
The police tried to pacify the protesters and asked them to end the blockade as vehicles had backed up for around six km on both sides, Supa police station inspector Rajendra Bhosale said.
As many as 110 protesters were detained in the afternoon and released after the traffic resumed, Bhosale said.
Dr Dhananjay Pote, who checked Hazare in the morning, said he had lost 3.8 kg in the past five days and his blood pressure, blood sugar and creatinine level in the urine had gone up.
Around 5,000 farmers from the district are likely to stage a protect outside the Ahmednagar collector’s office on Monday to support Hazare’s agitation, his associates said.
The decision to hold the protest was taken at a gram sabha (village meeting) at Ralegan Siddhi on Saturday night.
Leaders of various political parties from Parner tehsil were present at the meeting.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray appealed to the BJP-led state government ― of which his party is a part ― to intervene and asked it to not to “play” with Hazare’s life.
Thackeray also asked Hazare to take to the streets instead of “giving up” his life, and urged him to emulate the role played by Narayan in the 1970s when the socialist leader took on the Indira Gandhi government.
Hazare should not meet the fate of activist G D Agrawal, who died during a fast for his campaign for clean Ganga, the Sena leader said.
Hazare had earlier declined to meet state government envoy and minister Girish Mahajan for talks.
The anti-corruption crusader had told PTI that he welcomed the Maharashtra cabinet’s decision to bring the office of the chief minister under the ambit of the Lokayukta.
“However, the strike will continue till the government fulfils promises they made before coming to power about passage of Lokayukta Act, appointment of Lokpal (at the Centre) and to tackle farmers’ issues,” he said.