A leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and former Army chief V K Singh engaged in a public spat at Anna Hazare’s fast venue in Ralegan Siddhi on Friday,following which the social activist asked the AAP leader to leave the spot.
Gopal Rai,who had traveled to Ralegan Siddhi along with AAP colleagues Kumar Vishwas and Sanjay Singh to express solidarity with Hazare on the Jan Lokpal bill,left the village soon after taking potshots at Singh. He said some elements were deliberately trying to create differences between AAP and Hazare.
Trouble started when Singh took a dig at AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal,saying “some people” have made political benefits out of Hazare’s movement and then deserted him. Rai,who was sitting among the audience,took objection to this and tried to interrupt the speech.
A small confrontation followed,forcing Hazare to intervene. “Please don’t create commotion here. I had asked you not to stay back and fast here. You can leave if you are here to create trouble,” Hazare told Rai,who had stayed back in the village although his two party colleagues had left after expressing support to Hazare.
About 30 minutes later,Rai was seen still sitting there and talking to media channels. After some time,one of Hazare’s aide approached Rai and told him that “this was polluting the environment of the protest”. Rai then walked away.
“Anna has asked me to leave Ralegan Siddhi. It’s his village. I will leave Ralegan but I will continue to fast for Jan Lokpal,” he told reporters. He took on the former army chief,saying,”V K Singh is clearly close to the BJP and indulging into sycophancy to get a Lok Sabha ticket from the party. He should not try to teach what AAP should do.”
He said it was wrong on Singh’s part to speak about political issues and Anna’s betrayal by AAP’ when it was agreed upon by everybody that the stage will only be used for exert pressure on the government to enact the Jan Lokpal bill.
Singh rubbished Rai’s allegation that he was “running around (Narendra) Modi” for a Lok Sabha ticket. “I attended a rally of Modiji because it was for ex-servicemen. I have said this repeatedly that I will attend functions organised by any political party if it it is for the welfare of the ex-servicemen. I don’t want a ticket from BJP,” he said.
He said he was not referring to any particular person when Rai interrupted his speech. “I was merely stating facts as to how a movement had started and then how some people abandoned it only to have it restarted by Annaji and me. Some people took it personally,” he said.
Hazare later said Rai should not have to interrupted Singh’s speech. “Since yesterday,I have been telling him that it was improper for a member of a political party to participate in the protest… when I have made it clear that I wish to stay away from political parties and personalities. Today,when V K Singh was speaking he interrupted him hence I had to ask him to either maintain the decorum or leave,” he said. “While leaving,he handed over a note to me saying that he will continue to fast as long as I did.”