New Delhi: The Rafale "scam" would not have happened if the Lokpal was in place, social activist Anna Hazare said on Monday, announcing indefinite hunger strike from January 30 over his unmet demands for farmers and implementation of the anti-corruption law.
The veteran anti-graft leader slammed the Centre for not implementing the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 despite an order of the Supreme Court, saying he felt the country was in "danger" of slipping towards "autocracy".
This will be his third hunger strike over the demand of Lokpal in the last eight years. Leading civil society members and groups, he sat on an indefinite hunger strike at the Ramleela ground in Delhi for the first time in April 2011.
"If Lokpal was there, scam like Rafale would not have happened. I have plenty of papers on Rafale and I will hold a separate press conference after studying it for two days. One thing I do not understand how a company formed a month ago before the deal was made partner in it," Hazare said at a press conference in New Delhi.
He will start his hunger strike at his village Ralegan Siddhi on January 30 and will continue it till the government meets his demands.
"In the past, the government said in writing that they will implement Lokpal law and provide pensions and 1.5 times of minimum support price to the farmers but did nothing. Now I will not have any more false assurances and continue the hunger strike till there is life in my body," he said.
In March last year, Hazare along with his supporters held a week-long hunger strike at the Ramleela ground, demanding implementation of the Lokpal law.
"Not implementing order of a constitutional body moves the country from democracy to autocracy. This government is on the same course. What kind of a government is this which does not obey the Supreme Court order. Is it a government, or some bania ki dukan (provisional store)," said the anti-graft campaigner.
Hazare also charged the government of failing to meet his demands for pensions, adequate price of crops and loan waivers to the farmers.
"This government is not concerned about the farmers. It is concerned only for industrialists whose loans running in lakhs of crores of rupees have been waived," he alleged.
He claimed agrarian distress due to falling prices has forced farmers to throw their produce like vegetables and milk on the roads.
Hazare asked his followers not to crowd Ralegan Siddhi, where he will be on fast unto death, and hold the hunger strike at their respective places.
Rashtriya Kisan Mahapanchayat that has extended support to Hazare, said farmer outfits across the country will join the hunger strike.
Organisations of farmers in 15 states, including Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, have assured to join the hunger strike and more are expected to do so in the coming days, said core committee member of the Mahapanchayat, Shiv Kumar Kakka.