New Delhi: Nearly two months after parting ways with his former close aide Arvind Kejriwal, activist Anna Hazare today announced a new team that he said will carry forward his anti-corruption movement.
At a press conference in Delhi, Mr Hazare said there was an urgent need to unite the country against corruption and launch a revolution to change the system. (Highlights of the press conference)
Mr Hazare, 75, said that from January 30, his group will start a nationwide tour for the next year and a half to push the government to enact Jan Lokpal before the 2014 elections. January 30 is the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
"Soon there will be a national campaign against corruption. I will start a nationwide tour from Jan 30, 2013," Mr Hazare said.
The new team has Justice (Retd) Santosh Hegde, Kiran Bedi, Medha Patkar, Akhil Gogoi, Sunita Godara, Arvind Gaur, Shivendra Singh Chauhan and Rakesh Rafiq.
There are some new faces as well: former DGP (Punjab) Shashikant, former IAS officer Avinash Dharmadhikari, Lt Col Brijendra Khokhar, Ran Singh Arya, activist Akshay Kumar and agriculture expert Vishambhar Chaudhary. Mr Hegde and Mr Dharmadhikari could not attend today's meeting.
Former army chief General VK Singh is not a part of the team, but a special invitee. Speaking to reporters separately, he said: "I have no issue about not being part of the team. I'm a special invitee. I'm supportive of Anna Hazare and every citizen who wants to work for the country. I had discussions with Anna Hazare. On January 30, we'll announce from Patna the final roadmap of this agitation."
A press statement issued by Mr Hazare's team said the activist had reconstituted the coordination committee to re-energise the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement, signalling a possible confrontation with Mr Kejriwal's group that is still using the IAC banner.
But activist Medha Patkar maintained Mr Hazare and Mr Kejriwal had no differences on the issue.
Mr Hazare said he will support Mr Kejriwal if he fights elections. To which, the activist-turned-politician reacted: "I consider Annaji as my guru. I speak to him every two or three days. . If he asks me to stop using the IAC name, I won't."
Mr Hazare demanded that foreign companies be stopped from entering the country and opposed the privatisation of water and power. He said farmers were facing the brunt, being lathicharged and even fired at by the police, as the government went all out to provide land to foreign companies.
Gram sabhas, he said, should be given powers to decide on land acquisition.
Mr Hazare will inaugurate his Delhi office at Sarvodaya Enclave tomorrow, but the group's headquarters will be at his native village Ralegan Siddhi.
"This movement is back. It won't stop until our investigating agencies become independent of government control," said Ms Bedi.
On September 19, Mr Hazare had confirmed his "separation" from his former team and key associate Kejriwal on the issue of forming a political party. He directed that his photographs or name should not be used for political campaigning.
(With inputs from agencies)