June 5, 1997
PLAYING THE MIDDLEMAN: Sena leader Raj Thackeray meets veteran social worker Anna Hazare at Ralegan Siddhi.
PUNE, June 4: Noted social worker Anna Hazare will meet Sena supremo Bal Thackeray in Mumbai next week. The meeting between the sparring partners was arranged by Sena leader Raj Thackeray, who held a closed-door discussion with Hazare at Ralegan Siddhi village yesterday.
Raj Thackeray’s unexpected intervention by way of visiting the soldier-turned-crusader is believed to have mitigated the crisis which ensued after the Sena chief and Hazare hurled accusations at one another. The social worker was closeted with Raj for over 40 minutes at the Hind Swaraj Trust office at Ralegan Siddhi.
Addressing a joint press conference with Hazare later, Raj Thackeray said his visit was aimed at bridging the “communication gap” between his uncle and Hazare. Accepting the proffered olive branch, the social worker announced his decision to meet the Sena supremo.
Stressing that no disagreement remained between his uncle and Hazare, Raj Thackeray claimed that since the Shiv Sena was committed to eradication of corruption, the duo could not have any differences on principles.
The Sena leader said the meeting was imperative to “stop others from taking advantage of the so-called differences between Hazare and the Sena chief”.
Speaking to newspersons, Hazare hinted that he may re-accept the Maharashtra Government’s ambitious model village project. Earlier, he had resigned from the post of project chairman in protest against the Government’s inaction in dealing with the alleged corruption involving some high-ranking officials.
Meanwhile, at a separate function in the city, Raj Thackeray clarified that the Shiv Udyog Sena would provide services to help the unemployed get jobs rather than just disbursing loans. “Our endeavour will be to help the unemployed hunt for suitable job opportunities, prepare project reports, negotiate loans from bank and market their products,” he said.
The Sena leader stressed that only Maharashtrians would be able to avail of the project. A non-Maharashtrian would have to produce the State’s domicile certificate for his application to be entertained, he said.
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