Wary of the adverse impact his pro-Narendra Modi statement might have on the anti-corruption plank, veteran crusader Anna Hazare on Wednesday said he was opposed to communalism and had condemned the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat.
In a separate development, Hazare appealed to the citizens to stay focused on the main issue of corruption.
In a letter to social activist and renowned danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, Hazare said he has always been critical of the 2002 post-Godhra riots and its handling by the Modi government.
“Let me at the outset say that I am totally apolitical and strongly against communalism….At the same time I had condemned the 2002 riots and its handling,” he wrote.
Hazare, however, has skipped any reference to the Modi issue in his nationwide appeal, three days before the first meeting of the joint drafting committee on the lokpal bill.
In a clear indication of the growing divide between the civil society activists on the issue of Modi praise, Hazare said people should not pay attention to disinformation and distractive campaigns.
“It is clearly evident that there is handful of people who are already active trying to create schisms in this great coming together of all sections of our society to fight for a corruption-free future,” said the veteran Gandhian.
Hazare had kicked up a major controversy with his praise of the Gujarat chief minister along with Bihar’s Nitish Kumar for their work on rural development during a press conference on Sunday.
Hazare had clarified within hours that he was opposed to all sorts of communalism and condemned communal riots. This, however, failed to convince the activists, who have asked the veteran Gandhian to oppose communalism in clear terms.
Big names among civil society activists — Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Sandeep Pandey and Kavita Srivastava — have termed Hazare’s move as unfortunate and unacceptable.
Hazare’s appeal is an attempt to put an end to controversies that have been raking up almost everyday since he ended his fast on Saturday.
Panel members to declare assets
The five civil society members of the joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill will declare their assets. Following demands by the Congress general-secretary Digvijaya Singh and some non-governmental organisations, co-chairman of the panel and former law minister, Shanti Bhushan said on Wednesday it was a good suggestion.
Another member of the panel, Arvind Kejriwal said their team had already made it clear that they would be declaring their assets.