AAP, Hazare supporters in slanging match at fast venue

Ralegan-Siddhi (Maharashtra), Dec 13: Veteran anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare was embarrassed and angry when some Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders attempted to disrupt a meeting by former army chief V.K. Singh here Friday.

The incident took place on the fourth day of Hazare’s indefinite hunger strike, when Gen Singh came to express solidarity with the fasting leader and later addressed the gathering.

Soon after Gen Singh started speaking, AAP leader Gopal Rai stood up to interrupt, accusing the former army chief of betraying Hazare at a critical juncture.

Taken aback by the heated arguments that ensued, a visibly annoyed Hazare virtually asked Rai to “get out” if he wanted to create disturbances in the meeting.

As he was speaking, Rai got up and took objection to Gen Singh hobnobbing with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate.

Rai also protested when Gen Singh attempted to indirectly target AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, which led to an argument with Rai who was only sitting on a token fast.

Hitting out at AAP, Gen Singh said that they should not have abandoned Hazare midway during the anti-corruption campaign and floated a political party.

A visibly irritated Hazare grabbed the mike from Gen Singh and rebuked Rai, saying: “We have not asked you to join the fast here”.

“Why are you interrupting his speech? If you want to create a ‘tamasha’ (drama), you can go outside and do it,” Hazare snapped.

In a sharp tone, Hazare admonished Rai for sitting on a fast despite being told otherwise. He said Rai was trying to create a ruckus at a public meeting.

Later, Rai claimed that there were no differences with Hazare or his supporters but objected to what he called “some people trying to poison Hazare’s ears and hobnobbing with Modi for an election ticket”.

This is the second instance of differences between Hazare supporters and AAP activists coming to the fore in the past couple of days.

AAP leader Kumar Vishwas who arrived here in place of the indisposed Kejriwal Thursday encountered a round of hostile slogan-shouting by Hazare supporters, even as the 76-year-old Hazare looked on in dismay.

Meanwhile, on the fourth day of his agitation, Hazare secured support from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Mumbai’s famous dabbawalas, even as hundreds of supporters arrived from different parts of Maharashtra to express solidarity with the fasting leader.

Under the Jantantra Morcha banner, Hazare has declared that he will continue his indefinite fast till the Lokpal Bill is passed in parliament.

IANS