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Monday, 17 October 2011

Signs of a thaw? Anna Hazare invites Rahul home to Ralegan Siddhi


NEW DELHI: Anna Hazare has invited Rahul Gandhi to Ralegan Siddhi to witness rural development in his village, indicating a thaw in the bitter relations between him and Congress.

"Anna's message is clear that Rahul is welcome to Ralegan. He has high expectations from Rahul about the leadership of the new generation," Vinayakrao Deshmukh, Hazare's nephew, told TOI, quoting the Gandhian.

Vinayakrao, who incidentally is Congress in-charge of implementation of UPA's flagship schemes in Maharashtra, is in the capital.

The improving vibes between the fierce Lokpal campaigner and Congress come amid recrimination over Hazare's "defeat Congress" call in Hisar bypolls. Congress leader Digvijay Singh accused him of carrying out RSS agenda to target the party with a flurry of letters.

But Vinayak said the 'RSS front' charge was baseless. "In our place, when some elder dies, a mourning person does not wear a cap and stays barefoot for 10 days. I still remember when Indira Gandhi was assassinated, Anna did not wear topi and chappal for 10 days, such is his respect for the Nehru-Gandhi family," he said.

In contrast, he said, Hazare was offered a Rajya Sabha nomination during NDA regime but he turned it down.

Vinayak said the slanging match between Congress and Hazare was a result of "bad communication" because the Gandhian was fighting against corruption while Congress leadership agreed with it.

"Anna is never against any party but is only for an issue... I think the days ahead are good for Congress-Anna partnership if a strong Lokpal bill is passed in the winter session of Parliament," he said.

"Now, after PM wrote to him assuring that the bill would be brought in the winter session, he has postponed his UP yatra," he said.

Hazare's nephew said there were no major differences between his uncle and the Congress leadership. "It will be good for Congress in future. Anna can help guide the Centre's rural development programmes through his associations," he said.

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