Hazare plays down Kejriwal’s absence

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Ralegan Siddhi, December 12:  Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare played down questions on Wednesday about former protégé Arvind Kejriwal’s absence at his latest fight for the Jan Lokpal Bill.

“If two or three people don’t come, it will not make a difference to the movement,” he said. “I am nobody’s Guru. I have faith in the power of the common people who are supporting me.” He was speaking to journalists for the first time after he began an indefinite fast on Tuesday.

But wasn’t this a cause they had both once championed? “Maybe he could not come because he is celebrating,” Mr. Hazare said. “The party has emerged successful. What’s wrong with that?”

Soon after the press conference, sources said Mr. Kejriwal and former Team Anna member Kumar Vishwas conveyed to them that they would be visiting Mr. Hazare in Ralegan Siddhi on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, Kiran Bedi too faced similar questions. “Anna is not alone,” she said when asked whether Mr. Kejriwal had abandoned Mr. Hazare in his hour of need. “Everyone needs to answer his own conscience. I don’t need to comment on anybody.”

However, soon afterwards, Ms. Bedi announced that she too would undertake a fast from Saturday. “I cannot leave Anna alone. Everyone is welcome to join me. This is the last fight. I have no political aim.”

Mr. Hazare announced that BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley had written to him promising to pursue the Lokpal Bill. Mr. Jaitley said the current version of the Lokpal Bill was diluted as the Select Committee did not accept all the recendations given by the BJP. “Even this diluted Bill is not on the agenda [of the Rajya Sabha] in this session.”

However, Mr. Hazare said he did not “trust” the BJP leader. “As the Opposition party, they could have done a lot. Why are they not protesting in public so that people know what the Congress government is doing?” Mr Hazare said.

On Minister of State in the PMO V.Narayanasamy’s statement that the Lokapl Bill would be passed in the Winter Session, Mr Hazare said: “When we enquired, we found out that the Bill is not even on the agenda. The PMO is cheating the people of our country.”

He said he would reply to Mr. Jaitley and Mr. Narayansamy on Thursday.

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