When he was deputy municipal commissioner G. R. Khairnar fought the corrupt systems. As his hate list swells in numbers
Q. It has been three years since you launched your crusade against corruption. How successful do think you have been?
A. It is not a question of success or failure. I have tried to create awareness in society. Despite progress, our society is god fearing and believes in destiny. Even the elite go by their prejudices. Our society does not go by logic. As far as society is concerned, one cannot expect instant success. It is a long-term process to create awareness whereby anti social, anti-national and people in power are exposed. It is the process of thinking afresh. There are many great personalities who have tried to bring awakening in society. Great personalities like Gautam Buddha, Gandhiji have tried to bring about an awakening. Yet our people are still not cured. They cling to dogmas. To change society means a lot of effort.
Q. So far what has been your concrete success?
A. I have created awareness. There was an illusion in Maharashtra that the mighty Sharad Pawar cannot be thrown out of power. But I proved that wrong in my limited way. I proved that given the right guidance, people could transform society. I think to a small extent, I have managed to expose the nexus between politicians and corruption. The common person no longer feels that politicians are god. They (Politicians) are being finally seen as what they are.
In addition, one of my major successes is making people aware of what it means to be an imandar (honest). Look at me, see where I am. People have realised, what imandari can do for you.
Q. Critics say that your drive against corruption has fizzled out, rather it is not visible. Would you agree?
A. I cannot expect everyone to change along with me. I have my limitations. For example, I do not have the talent or the charisma like some people posses. It is unfortunate, that even the elite in our society have not recognised their obligations towards society. I lack the ability to speak well and neither have I the organizational support.
Even the Marathi Press has let me down. A great editor like Arun Tikekar (Editor of the largest selling Marathi daily, Loksatta) told me two years ago that though he supported me there was pressure on him to write against me.
The Marathi Press has turned against me. Personally, it is not against me. Possibly, it is influenced by politicians such as Sharad Pawar or for that matter their proprietors. There are other factors like advertisements and pressure from the government. Some journalists have also their jobs to lose if they write about me.
Then, there are so-called social activists who have also weakened the cause. They pretend to be big persons, social reformers but they are small persons inside.
Q. Are you talking about Anna Hazare who has refused to come on a common platform with you? What are your differences with Hazare and why are you not coming together?
A. Three years ago when Hazare was making rounds of villages I offered to join him and even expressed my willingness to chuck up my job for fighting our common cause together. He refused saying that he would fight from bottom and suggested I take on the top (senior officials).
Yet, throughout Sharad Pawar’s days as Chief Minister, he rarely criticised him. On the other hand, he posed with Pawar, availed an air-conditioned car, a flat and received Rs.60 Lakh as donation.
For propaganda sake, he has projected Ralegoan Siddhi as a model village, but even after 14 years and availing lakhs of rupees of aid, Ralegoan Siddhi can hardly be called a model-village. He (Hazare) pretends to be saint and loves it when people fall at his feet. It is just mere propaganda by him. For example, Anna Hazare has never criticised Bal Thackeray openly and has instead denied that he asked for a probe into Thackeray’s wealth. What is more, he readily agreed to be part of the committee of which Thackeray was a member to probe corruption.
Hazare is a Sarkari sant.
Q. But he has produced proofâ€¦.
A. What proof? He has Xeroxed complaints that he received from people and is parading it as proof. I know what proof is. I have spent half of life working in a government department examining documents. Peddling complaints is not a proof. In my case, Anna has withdrawn all the charges he has made against Thackeray, Munde. And the Marathi Press has built up Anna’s image. Hazare’s so called crusade is sheer propaganda. His personal assistant who also is his nephew is a contractor and a person of dubious contacts. What is Anna doing about him?
Q. T. N. Seshan has also been thinking of doing social work. Will you join him?
A. Not, until I get necessary answers from him.
A. Like, why did he accepted that Rs.7 Lakh ring from Chandraswami? Why did he hire a Reliance plane for Rs.1Lakh? I asked him these questions and he was unable to give satisfactory answers. He said that he accepted the ring from Chandraswami because he was unable to displease him (Chandraswami). He said that the PM Narsimha rao, would get all his work done by Chandraswami. In fact, Chandraswami was the eyes and ears of Rao and therefore Seshan said he accepted the ring when it was offered to him. This answer did not satisfy me.
Q: Why is it that those out to reform the society rarely succeed? You also have suffered a lot.
A: We are a nation of “gulams” (slaves). We leave everything to God. When the Mughals came and looted us, we prayed and said that God will help us. Yet, the statue, which many call God, did nothing; many people are upset when I speak about God like this. However, people are now beginning to understand that there is little that the statue, which we call God, can do for us. It is for us do something for ourselves.
I knew I would suffer. I was fighting within the system as an officer because I felt obligated towards the common person who was paying my salary when I was the deputy municipal commissioner. I did what I felt was right. Many people scared for my life.
Q: Why did you make personal allegations about Thackeray? Is it fair?
A: When the entire society is on fire, do you expect me to camouflage my feelings? I want to awaken the society and I am a moophat (out-spoken). I will try to fight my way.
By Ketan Narottam Tanna