Ralegan Siddhi: A day after some signs of rapprochement, the rift between Anna Hazare and Aam Aadmi Party today came into the open at his fast venue with an AAP member clashing with former army chief V K Singh, who accused them of betraying the Gandhian.
The simmering bitterness aggravated to such an extent after Singh slammed AAP leaders for “deserting” the anti-graft campaigner and taking the political plunge that Hazare ordered the fledgling party’s representative at the venue Gopal Rai to leave the village.
It all started when Singh, a key Team Anna member after retiring from service, began castigating AAP leaders without naming them for parting ways with 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 undermine omething that Annaji has created.
“Today, if we have to take our nation forward, we need to unite and not float separate groups and separate parties,” Singh said, setting off a verbal duel with Rai.
Rai, who was seated among the audience and observing a fast since yesterday when an AAP team dispatched by its leader Arvind Kejriwal met Hazare, joined issue with Singh, calling him an “agent” of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
As the two engaged in a heated arguments, Hazare, whose hunger strike for passage in Parliament of Jan Lokpal Bill entered its fourth day today, took the mike and started berating Rai.
“You were told not to join the fast but you did. 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,” Hazare said, chastising Rai.
Later, speaking to the media, 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.”
Reflecting a thaw in their relations with Anna Hazare, a team of Aaam Aadmi Party had yesterday called on the Gandhian and pledged to lend their support to his fight for passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill, pending in the Rajya Sabha.
AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, who could not come due to indisposition, had also spoken to Hazare, who was claimed to have given him his blessings.
Relations between the anti-graft crusader and Kejriwal had come under severe strain after a video showing Hazare expressing disappointment over alleged misuse of funds collected during the India Against Corruption’s campaign for Jan Lokpal surfaced just ahead of the Delhi polls.
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”.