Mumbai: Social reformer and anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare on Tuesday penned a scathing letter to his one-time ‘mentee’ and now Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on the city’s excise policy row cautioning him not to get “drunk with power”.
“Like liquor, power to intoxicates, corrupts,” Hazare said in his letter insinuating the AAP national convenor has been “intoxicated by power, it seems”.
The mentor in his very first letter to the Delhi chief minister, since their mass movement ended and the latter took the political plunge, used many more scathing lines over the city government’s liquor licensing policy that was withdrawn in July following corruption charges.
“This is the first time I am writing to you since you became a chief minister because I am pained at recent news reports about your government’s liquor policy,” the letter in Hindi, said.
“You had written idealistic things on liquor policies in your book ‘Swaraj’, for which you got me to write the introduction,” he said adding from it that “no liquor shops be opened without area residents’ approval”.
“You have forgotten those ideals after becoming chief minister,” Hazare said.
Taking a sharp dig, the 85-year-old said it appears everyone is “trapped in a cycle of money for power-and-power for money”.
“This does not suit a party which emerged from a mass movement,” Hazare said of the Aam Aadmi Party “formed by you, Manish Sisodia, and others”. He slammed them for “not being different from any other party now”.
Kejriwal’s deputy Sisodia, who handles the Delhi government’s Excise Ministry among many others, is among 15 accused named in the graft FIR.
“You had written such model thoughts about the problem of alcoholism in rural and urban areas in your book Swarajya and yet you seem to have forgotten your ideology after becoming chief minister,” Hazare said.
Anna said, is that why “your government formulated a new liquor policy in Delhi. It seems that this will give an impetus to liquor sales as well as consumption of liquor. Liquor shops can be opened in every lane. This can lead to an increase in corruption. This is not in the interest of people,” the senior activist added.
“Such a wrong liquor policy won’t have been formed anywhere in India, had we stuck to being a pressure group, and carried out an awareness drive, as I suggested,” wrote Hazare.
“Rather than bringing in a strong Lokpal and anti-corruption laws, you brought in this liquor policy that is anti-people, particularly anti-women,” Hazare added, citing his village Ralegan Siddhi and Maharashtra as ideals on liquor policy.
Hazare wrote: “The reporting in the media regarding the excise policy upset me deeply…” The new excise policy had brought private players into the liquor trade, boosting availability and competitive prices.
Introducing in November last year, the AAP had argued the new excise policy would finish off the liquor mafia and the grey market while increasing revenue. However, corruption allegations forced the AAP government to withdraw it within eight months as the CBI started questioning.
Anna Hazare’s letter comes amid the ongoing political slug-fest between AAP and BJP.
Hazare was the face of the anti-corruption and Lokpal movement in 2011, from which later the AAP emerged.
Hazare chose to stay out of the party politics but he has since on several occasions criticized the AAP for its state of affairs.