Don’t fall prey to designs of ‘agents’ of Congress and BJP, AAP tells Anna Hazare


December 13, 2013

RALEGAN SIDDHI: Simmering differences between Team Anna and Aam Aadmi Party burst out into the open on Friday when Anna Hazare ordered a frontline AAP leader out of his fast venue and village after he had a public spat with former Army chief General V K Singh.

December 13, 2013

RALEGAN SIDDHI: Simmering differences between Team Anna and Aam Aadmi Party burst out into the open on Friday when Anna Hazare ordered a frontline AAP leader out of his fast venue and village after he had a public spat with former Army chief General V K Singh.

Anna Hazare ordered AAP leader Gopal Rai(left)out of his fast venue after he objected to speech by former Army chief VK Singh.

The snub prompted AAP to call back Gopal Rai, whom it had deputed to stay here during the entire duration of Hazare's fast as an expression of solidarity, and launch an attack on elements inimical to the Jan Lokpal movement who were "poisoning" his ears.

It all started when Singh, who has emerged a key Team Anna member after retiring from service, began castigating AAP leaders without naming them for deserting Hazare and floating a political outfit.

"When Annaji raised the voice for Jan Lokpal, many people rallied behind him but later left him. Today, they say it is because of them that there is Annaji and not because there is Annaji that they are there. Nobody can belittle something that Annaji has created.

"Today, if we have to take our nation forward, we need to unite and not float separate groups and parties," Singh said, setting off a verbal duel with Rai.

This enraged Rai, who was seated among the audience and observing fast since Thursday, and he joined issue with Singh, asking why he was raising matters other than Jan Lokpal.

"You can speak later. If what I say is not palatable to someone … you are under a misconception and keep that within you. The wrong things that you have done. Do not force me to speak further," he said.

As a spat broke out, Hazare, whose hunger strike for passage in Parliament of Jan Lokpal Bill entered its fourth day on Friday, took the mike and started berating Rai.

He told Rai sternly "Even yesterday I told you not to fast. Why are you speaking in between. Now people are asking you not to interrupt the (Singh's) speech and you are interrupting. If you have to create a ruckus, you leave the village. Don't sit here. It is not proper to interrupt people when they are speaking."

Chastised, Rai left the venue for Delhi. AAP leader Manish Sisodia said in Delhi that Rai has been called back but pleaded with Hazare not to fall a prey to designs of "some agents" of Congress and BJP to convince him that the Lokpal Bill before Rajya Sabha was good and support it.

Sisodia said that the Lokpal Bill which government was trying to get passed "is nothing but a jokepal" as all those politicians who have corruption charges would be appointing the Lokpal.

He said the current bill also kept the lower-level government employees and the state government employees out of its purview. Also there is no mention of Citizen Charter in it and does not have the required teeth to fight graft.

"In all, the bill is an eyewash and does not have any of teeth," he said.

Rai said some people inimical to the Jan Lokpal movement were misleading Hazare.

"The agenda is Jan Lokpal and people are talking about betrayal. That too, a person who is making rounds of Modi for a ticket to contest elections. Many people are unable to digest our unity and they are poisoning Anna's ears," Rai said.

Asked about growing distance between Hazare and AAP, Rai said, "There is no distance. As long as Jan Lokpal is our common goal, there cannot be distance. We would probably not have come here if Anna were not fasting for Jan Lokpal.

"Anna said don't stay in Ralegan Siddhi but this is the fight of the entire country. I am leaving Anna's village but will not leave him. I will continue my fast in Delhi," he said.

Replying to a query about whether Hazare was taking wrong decisions under the influence of a coterie, Rai said, "We hope Anna will take the right decision at the right time."

Addressing the media later, Singh accused AAP of accepting money from America's Ford Foundation.

He also deprecated the "uncivilized conduct" of Rai and added "I cannot say more than this. It is below my dignity to react to him. It was Anna's platform."

Continuing his veiled attack on AAP, he said they took advantage of Anna's movement and tried to "belittle" Hazare thinking he would come behind them in three or four months.

When asked about his political ambitions in the background of his sharing stage with Narendra Modi in a public meeting in Haryana, he said "I do not know whether I have any political ambitions. Let there be no misconception.

"I went to an ex-servicemen's rally in which Modi was there. I will go anywhere in the interest of ex-servicemen because I am an army man first," he said.

Interacting with the media later, Hazare defended his decision to ask Rai to leave as he had interrupted Singh's speech.

He also said it was a long-standing practice in the Jan Lokpal movement not to allow politicians to share his platform.

"It is nothing new. This has been the practice since the time Arvind Kejriwal was with us," he said rejecting suggestions that ordering Rai to leave the village amounted to an insult to AAP.

"No, it is not an insult. I have reached where I have by swallowing insults. Activists move forward when they swallow insults," he said.

Replying to a query if he would keep V K Singh in his movement if he contested elctions, Hazare said, "I cannot stop anybody from joining politics but politicians would not share my platform."

He, however, clarified he was not against politicians many of whom were good people. "There is no harm in talking to good people. I don't believe all politicians are bad, there are good people in all walks of life," he said.

When asked why he had dissociated from his old team and embraced new people like V K Singh, he said, "I had set out alone and people joined me. I will continue to walk alone. It is immaterial where the team is old or new."

About Singh's allegation that AAP received money from the Ford Foundation he said he did not know but if something wrong had happened there was the police and CBI to probe and take action.

An Aam Aadmi Party team despatched by Kejriwal had on Thursday met Hazare at the fast venue following surfacing of a video showing the anti-graft campaigner voicing disappointment over alleged misuse of funds by AAP collected during India Against Corruption's campaign for Jan Lokpal.

Kejriwal had said he was "very, very sad" over the video and demanded an open probe into Hazare's allegation.

Hazare had later clarified he was mainly concerned about "misuse" of his name in the poll campaign and said the two are "not enemies" and even hailed AAP's victory in Delhi elections.

Courtesy: PTI