India's anti-corruption crusader Hazare to launch new campaign against Modi govt

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends India's Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Jan 26, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends India's Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Jan 26, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

RALEGAN SIDDHI, India - India's anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare is preparing to launch a new campaign against the BJP-led government saying that prime minister Narendra Modi is not serious about fighting corruption.

"In eight months, the government has not given any priority to fighting corruption.. we are organising another movement," the 77-year-old Gandhian told New Delhi Television from his village Ralegan Siddhi in western Maharashtra state.

He said there was no progress on the Lokpal or Ombudsman bill, to check corruption for which he had undergone a three-day fast in 2011 and won wide public support amid rising anger over a slew of corruption scandals against the then Congress-led Manmohan Singh government.

Mr Hazare said his new team will miss leaders like Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, who were in the core team behind the anti-corruption campaign, known as "team Anna".

Mr Kejriwal has floated his own anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) while Ms Bedi is now the official candidate for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the ensuing Delhi elections. Both leaders are now main rivals in the polls.

Mr Hazare has reportedly disapproved of Ms Bedi's move to join the BJP and had refused to take her calls earlier this month. Both he and Ms Bedi had opposed Mr Kejriwal's move to launch the AAP in 2012.

"I don't need Kiran Bedi or Arvind Kejriwal. I have the people with me. Why should I be upset at not having a team?" he said.

Mr Hazare was able to mobilise mass support in 2011 to push the Congress-led government to draft an ombudsman bill aimed at setting up a powerful anti-graft watchdog agency called Lokpal.

Those street protests had attracted scores of middle-class electorate, and laid bare people's deep frustration with the corruption-ridden political system which the Modi government had pledged to dismantle.

As a result, the then government had passed a watered down version of the proposed bill, failing to muster the required two-thirds majority to give Lokpal constitutional status which would have given the watchdog more independence and greater autonomy.