Anna Hazare snubs AAP's Gopal Rai, asks him to leave fast venue

Fasting anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare lost his cool and asked Aam Aadmi Party leader Gopal Rai to keep away from his fasting site after he got in a spat with former Army Chief Gen V K Singh.

The public snub by Hazare, who has been on an indefinite fast pressing for the passage of Jan Lokpal Bill, came when Gopal Rai interrupted Singh's speech.

Gopal Rai's criticism of the general assumed political overtones, when he questioned VK Singh's presence at Anna's fast venue, who, Rai said, was a Narendra Modi supporter.

Amidst simmering tensions, Anna intervened and asked Gopal Rai to be quiet and asked VK Singh to continue his speech. Rai did not budge and started making gestures at General Singh.

Reacting to the snub, the AAP called back Rai from the fast site, who left Ralegan Siddhi promptly. He said he was complying with the orders of Hazare, who was like a father figure to him, and he would continue his fast in his home in Delhi.

Rai was annoyed at V K Singh's criticism of Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP. "We should not split and form different groups in our fight against corruption for personal gains," Singh said, referring to Kejriwal having opted for a political path.

Anna Hazare and the present leaders of AAP, including Kejriwal, were together in the anti-corruption movement and campaign for a Jan Lokpal Bill for more than a year till AAP was formed a year ago.

Rai, deputed by AAP to be at the fast site till end of the protest, interjected to question Singh and told him to discuss Jan Lokpal. He asked Singh why he was raising other matters.

Then Hazare, on the fourth day of his fast, bluntly told Rai not to interrupt Gen Singh.

Singh told Rai that the fight against corruption is in national interest and they have to fight together and not by forming different groups and parties.

"You can speak later. If what I say is not palatable to someone....You are under a misconception and keep that within you. The wrong things that you have done. Do not force me to speak further," he said.

Hazare told Rai sternly "Even yesterday I told you not to fast. Why are you speaking in between. We have not asked you to fast. If you want to create a ruckus, you can keep out of this village. It is not right to interrupt when someone is speaking."

The 76-year-old anti-graft crusader is on a fast near the Yadav Baba temple at Ralegan Siddhi village in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district, under the banner of 'Jantantra Morcha'.

He said he will not break his fast till the Jan Lokpal Bill is passed in Parliament.

Meanwhile, the BJP today accused Aam Aadmi Party of trying to "hijack" Anna Hazare's agitation on Janlokpal Bill when AAP leader Gopal Rai tried to interrupt former army chief V K Singh's speech at a function.

Party spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also ridiculed suggestions that BJP may offer support to AAP for forming government in Delhi, saying it was irrational to think so at a time when AAP is claiming that it will stop Narendra Modi from becoming prime minister.

He said BJP salutes the agitation of Hazare and condemned AAP for its attempt to "hijack" his agitation.

"The whole country is watching what they (AAP) are doing. We condemn it," he said.

Hazare's rebuke of Rai came after the latter objected to former army chief Gen (retd) V K Singh's dig at AAP. Singh had said the movement against corruption should not split and there are some who think they are bigger than Hazare, inviting strong response from Rai, who was at the venue.