Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare praised the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray in Mumbai on Thursday, while key members of Team Anna said in Delhi that they did not approve of Raj's brand of politics.
Hazare was meeting political leaders as part of his campaign for a strong lokayukta in Maharashtra. While Sena chief Bal Thackeray refused to meet him, he was cold shouldered by Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. During his meeting with Hazare, Chavan refused to set any deadline for enacting the Lokayukta bill in the state, saying the government would take a decision only after the Centre spells out its stance.
But Raj welcomed the activist. After meeting Raj at the latter's Dadar residence, Hazare said, "Raj Thackeray has supported my stance for a strong Lokayukta law."
He had a few words of praise for Raj. "I was happy with the manner in which he conducted examinations to select his candidates," said Hazare. Raj had conducted both written exams and interviews of all candidates who wished to contest the municipal polls held early this year.
Meanwhile, addressing a press conference in Delhi, Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan distanced themselves from the issue.
Bhushan said he was not in agreement with Raj's brand of politics. "We do not support Raj Thackeray's ways (like his opposition to north Indians)," he said.
Kejriwal avoided comments altogether, saying he was not aware of the context of Hazare's remarks.
As for the 'cold war' in Mumbai, Hazare downplayed Bal Thackeray's refusal to meet him. "I am not meeting for any self interest and his refusal will not cause any loss to me," he said.
Sena executive chief Uddhav Thackeray said: "Balasaheb did not meet Anna as he is surrounded by corrupt people."
(With inputs from agencies)