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Saturday, 20 August 2011

NCP not happy with Hazare's arrest, says it was not proper

Leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a key Congress ally at the Centre and in Maharashtra, on Saturday said that the arrest of social activist Anna Hazare was not proper and everyone had a right to express their feelings and opinions in a democratic society.

Speaking to the media, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who belongs to the NCP, said everyone has a right to express their opinion and also to go on a hunger strike. But to arrest someone even before he went on a fast was not correct and then later taking him to jail and asking to leave was improper, he pointed out. Mr. Pawar was speaking to the media after a Congressman from Ahmednagar Rajeev Rajale joined the NCP.

Earlier, NCP general secretary D.P. Tripathi too said that there was no need for Mr. Hazare's arrest. Besides, the Congress did not take its allies into confidence before this action, he added.


Mr. Pawar said that Mr. Hazare had made his demands much in advance and already indicated that he would go on a hunger strike. Referring to Mr. Hazare's protests in Maharashtra, Mr. Pawar said that he had carried out many protests and fasts and the leadership had found a way out through mediation and discussion. He said even now when there were issues, he and the Chief Minister discussed and tried to resolve matters. However, he was not willing to get drawn into any criticism against the Centre.

Mr. Pawar said the Jan Lokpal bill was pending and since this was a democracy, elected representatives in the Parliament would discuss it later. He said if any expertise from the State was needed, then Maharashtra was well-represented in the Union Cabinet. The Centre was perfectly capable of taking decisions on its own. In fact, some time ago, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had called a meeting of all the allies. When asked if he felt the Congress had not taken its allies into confidence, he said he would not comment on it.


In response to questions, he said it was totally wrong to say that the NCP was being “unleashed” on the Congress as was reported in a section of the media. He clarified that the NCP was not against Mr. Hazare at all and everyone was for eradicating corruption. However, it must be done within a legal and constitutional framework. He said even the Prime Minister had accepted the need for a Jan Lokpal and it could be passed through the Parliament with amendments, if necessary. “There are no two opinions that corruption must be cleaned up and the bill such as this is can be debated,” he said.

Mr Pawar said that the current agitation of Mr. Hazare had kept political parties at bay and even their flags were not permitted. Anna's supporters were apolitical, he said.


On the Maval issue, Mr. Pawar said he had condemned it in the State Legislative Assembly the very next day after the incident and both he and the Chief Minister had discussed the matter. Asked about Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's visit, he said that Mr. Gandhi was a leader and possibly a future Prime Minister and he went wherever there was an issue involving farmers. The NCP had already stated that the firing should not have happened.

When asked about proposed changes in the Home Ministry, Mr. Pawar said he had only read about it in the newspapers. There had been a lot of buzz that R.R. Patil was on his way out as the NCP was unhappy with his functioning. However, Mr. Pawar denied he went to New Delhi as was reported in the media and clarified there was no discussion on any change in the Home Ministry. If there was going to be any change, the party high command would decide and he was not going to meddle in it. And it will not be discussed with the media first, he pointed out.

NCP president Sharad Pawar is in the city to attend the Iftar party hosted by it. There are reports that he may visit Mawal en route Pune on Sunday.


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