PM is honest but remote controlled: Anna Hazare

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Chennai: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is an honest man but is ‘remote controlled’, activist Anna Hazare said Sunday, urging people to start filling the jails from January 1 in support of a strong Lokpal.

Addressing about 10,000 mainly middle class crowd at a college ground here, Hazare drew repeated applause as he asked the youth to take the lead in the war on corruption.

“From January 1 all jails in the country should be filled,” he said, and jocularly added: “You get breakfast and lunch there also!”

In later comments to the media in the same premises that drew a lot of clapping, he said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was a ‘good’ and ‘honest’ man but was ‘remote controlled’. He did not say by whom.

Hazare spoke for the first five minutes in Hindi. But when the crowds became restive, organisers first translated what he had already spoken and then provided a line-by-line translation in Tamil.

“I know that there is no Lokayukta in Tamil Nadu,” he said.

But Hazare, visiting the state for the first time since starting an anti-corruption campaign in April, made no reference to Tamil Nadu politicians in the thick of corruption charges.

He reiterated that he would begin his fast on December 27 from New Delhi if parliament did not pass an effective Lokpal bill by then to include all levels of the bureaucracy.

“I will start the fast and you start the Jail Bharo from January 1,” he added, drawing more applause.

Many in the crowds were teenagers and those in the 20s and 30s. There were a lot of young women and elderly too.

A former army driver, Hazare came down heavily against the greed for money.

“We came here with empty hands, and we will go empty-handed,” he said. “Even Alexander (the Great) died empty handed.”

“Our struggle is for the poor. The nation’s treasury is not to be looted.“

“All government officials should be under Lokpal. Group C and D should be covered by Lokpal. They are the people the poor interact with.”

Speaking to the media, he said a Lokpal institution without the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under its ambit would be a meaningless body.