Ahead of Anna’s Mumbai fast, a war of words with Congress
A slanging match over allegations of Anna's links with the RSS points to a vitiated atmosphere ahead of Anna's fast.
Here we go again. Anna Hazare arrives in Mumbai today for his three-day fast beginning tomorrow to press for a strong Lokpal Bill. But on the eve of the fast, Team Anna and the Congress found themselves locked in a war of words. Congress leaders, from Digvijaya Singh to Beni Prasad Verma called Hazare a string of names – from “RSS agent” to “Army deserter”. And some members of Team Anna fired back with gusto.
Digvijaya Singh set the spitfest rolling when he alleged that Anna had links with the RSS. He cited a historical photograph that had been published in a Hindi daily, which showed Anna with RSS leader Nanaji Deshmukh.
Nai Duniya newspaper carried the photograph on its front page. Digvijaya Singh pointed to it and said on Twitter: "Anna Hazare worked as Secretary with RSS leader Nanaji Deshmukh and trained in 1983 in Gonda. See Nai Duniya front page today."
Noting that Anna had denied any association with the RSS, Digvijaya Singh taunted him: “Now whom do we believe? Facts with Picture and the claim of RSS or Anna ? I am again proved right."
Team Anna fired right back at Digvijaya Singh. Kiran Bedi posted a picture of Digvijaya Singh himself sharing the dais with Nanaji Deshmukh and wondered if he too had RSS links.
“Does sharing of the dais make one each other’s agent?” she wondered. “Next time, should one sit alone? When two share a dais, do they become each other’s agent?”
Evidently, Digvijaya Singh wasn’t done. “The thing is,” he said, “Anna Hazare has worked with Nanaji Deshmukh in Gonda. I haven’t. RSS has published a book on Anna Hazare. RSS hasn’t published any book on Digvijaya till date, only slangs.”
The RSS too rejected the claim that Hazare was an aide of Deshmukh, and said that a mere meeting doesn’t count for anything. RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav claied that even Mahatma Gandhi had participated in a programme of the Sangh.
Meanwhile Digivijaya Singh’s party colleague and Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma opened up another front by calling Anna an “Army deserter” and an "RSS agent" .
"Anna Hazare is an Army deserter since 1965 war between India and Pakistan,” Verma told a TV channel. “He campaigned against Sharad Pawar in local body elections but Sharad Pawar emerged as winner."
Anna, he claimed, “only creates drama games in Delhi. He has got no identity in Indian politics. Anna is RSS's agent."
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi too said Anna should acknowledge his alleged RSS links. "Annaji has the right to follow any ideology, if he is with RSS, or support RSS, or RSS is his supporter, it is his own decision. But I believe, purity of thoughts is very important. What ideology you believe in, you need to be honest."
The Congress's new-found ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) too alleged that Anna now had a political agenda, and would therefore not command as many supporters as when his agitation was apolitical.
The BJP weighted in on the Congress leaders’ charges relating to Anna’s “RSS links”, and said they showed that the Congress has “gone crazy.”
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said: “Congress has gone crazy. Their leaders should be controlled, they have no control on their tongue." His party colleage Prakash Javadekar said the questions that the Congress had raised needed no answers.
"Nanaji was a great patriot and an activist. All parties had good relations with him,” he noted.
Team Anna’s core member Arvind Kejriwal said that such “baseless allegations” pointed to the fat that the Congress did not have anything else to speak about. "When they don't have anything to say, they say these things.”
Kejriwal said he preferred to speak about the upcoming agitation. “We will be encouraging people to sit on a peaceful dharna outside the residences of politicians from all the parties that oppose the Lokpal Bill in Parliament. If (the activists) are stopped, they should allow themselves to be arrested," he said..
Anna himself urged his followers to refrain from any violence and urged extreme caution since there was an ongoing effort to provoke and malign the movement.
"Some people are waiting for violence during the agitation,” he told a gramsabha meeting in Ralegaon Siddhi, his village. “If there is violence, the agitation will be maligned."
Anna further said that after the three-day fast in Mumbai, he would go to Delhi and stage a dharna outside the residences of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. "During the agitation in Delhi, we have prepared ourselves to receive lathi blows," he said.
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