No invite yet to Anna Hazare for Kejriwal’s event

PUNE: Social crusader Anna Hazare has not received an invitation as yet for the oath-taking ceremony of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday.
During his first tenure, Kejriwal had invited Anna for the swearing-in ceremony but Hazare, while offering his wishes, declined to attend citing health issues. “Even after this, Kejriwal called him, but Anna refused to answer his phone calls,” a close associate revealed.
He said no invitation has been received this time. When TOI tried to reach Kejriwal, his secretary said the chief minister is not speaking to any mediaperson.
On Tuesday, Hazare merely smiled and refused any comment after learning about Kejriwal’s landslide win in the Delhi assembly polls on February 11 and his oath-taking ceremony on Sunday.
“Anna has categorically stated that he will not comment on Kejriwal returning to office,” his secretary Sanjay Pathade told TOI on Friday. The Gandhian is observing ‘maun’ (complete silence) since December 20 to protest against the inordinate delay in executing the convicts in the Nirbhaya case and will break it only after they are hanged. “He writes his response on a piece of paper when he wishes to comment,” Pathade said.
Pathade had informed Hazare about Kejriwal’s win. “Anna wrote on a piece of paper asking for the party-wise break up. I told him that AAP has won 62seats andtheBJP8.Hesmiled andwrote “Theek aahe”(okay). I told him the media wanted his reaction but he said he will not comment,” Pathade said.
However, residents of Hazare’s native village Ralegan Siddhi burst crackers to celebrate Kejriwal’s win on Tuesday. It was not too long ago that the villagers were upset with Kejriwal and BJP functionary Kiran Bedi for “deserting” Hazare and choosing to join politics much against his wishes. There was a feeling that they had used Hazare’s Lokpal movement in 2011 to come into the limelight and later ditched him.
But former associates said it was Hazare who had gained from the presence of Kejriwal and Bedi in his core committee. “They (Bedi, Kejriwal) have a clean image.They were good negotiators and useful while dealing with government officials. They added weight to the core team as they knew when to go back a couple of steps for longterm gains,” a former associate said. In their absence, Hazare has become too rigid and will have only limited success and support, they added.
Ralegan Siddhi villagers are happy with Kejriwal’s success.“Weconsider him oneofus because he is a product of Anna’s anti-corruption andLokpal movement. He was a regular visitor to our village,” a villager who was part of the celebrations said.
Hazare’s associates in the village said that though he has not “forgiven” Kejriwal, he does have a soft corner for him. “There is some softening of the heart. He says Kejriwal is better when compared with other politicians,” a close Hazare aide said.
He said Hazare still feels that Kejriwal cheated the “anticorruption movement” by joining politics. “Anna wanted to create a permanent pressure group that will launch agitations on important issues. He thought that such a group can make any government take propeople decisions. When the V K Shunglu commission report indictedtheKejriwal government in 2017 for bypassing the law, nepotism andfinancialirregularities, Anna was very upset,” he said.
During a previous interview with TOI, Hazare had said that he did not feel he was being used when member after member of Team Anna joined politics. “We live in a democracy. How can I pressure them into doing something? What matters to me most is the support of the common people,” he had said.
But the experience made him wiser, Hazare had said. “I have received over one lakh applications from people who wish to join me. Now, I insist on an undertaking stating that the individualwill notuse my name or photo for personal gain and he/she will not have connection with any political party,” he had said.

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