“This is land grab by the government; Britishers used to do this,” said Mr Hazare as he addressed hundreds of supporters at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.
It was here the septuagenarian activist had started his protest against corruption in 2011, which had managed to capture the imagination of India and mobilised thousands of people to take to the streets; but the movement had fizzled out in a few months.
Today, the activist took on the government over its promise of delivering ‘Achche Din’ (better days), and asked, “Are the ‘Acche Din’ only for industrialists, not for common people”?
He has been highly critical of the government for making certain changes in the Land Acquisition Act, introduced by the earlier Congress-led UPA government, through an ordinance.
The government had in December recommended promulgation of the ordinance making significant changes in the Land Acquisition Act including the removal of a consent clause for acquiring land for five areas of industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence.
‘What is the need to bring in ordinance when Act was passed in 2013,’ Mr Hazare said at Jantar Mantar, adding, ‘To cater to the industrialists, how can you betray the farmers?’
He also claimed that “very few farmers” were aware of the new Bill, and there is a need to create awareness about it.
Mr Hazare also threatened to start a ‘jail bharo andolan’, a movement to court arrest, if the government did not address concerns over the Ordinance within four months.
The activist had famously courted arrest during his agitation in 2011; he had been sent to Delhi’s Tihar Jail, where thousands of his supporters had congregated, and the government had been forced to release him.
Arvind Kejriwal, the current Chief Minister of Delhi, was considered one of Mr Hazare’s closest aides during the anti-corruption movement. The two parted ways after Mr Kejriwal floated political outfit the Aam Aadmi Party in 2012, despite the misgivings openly stated by his then mentor.
The Chief Minister will meet the activist tonight, sources have said.