Ralegan Siddhi, Dec 6: Firing a fresh salvo, Anna Hazare today accused Sharad Pawar of persisting with his “old habit of protecting corrupt people” even as he virtually justified the recent attack on the NCP chief, evoking a sharp reaction from the party.
Hazare alleged that Pawar turned a blind eye to a number of corruption cases.
“If an inquiry is ordered, it will become clear who has been responsible. This shows that Sharad Pawar has an old habit of protecting corrupt people,” he said.
Referring to the November 24 incident in Delhi when a youth slapped Pawar as he merged from a function, Hazare acknowledged that he “committed violence” when he made the infamous remark “just one slap” but said he did not consider this violence as wrong.
“For the betterment of the society and the country, I have used strong words many times in the past. “Just One Slap?” - I admit that I committed violence when I said that. But for the betterment of society, I do not consider this violence as wrong,” Hazare posted on his blog.
“Many politicians felt very bad about the slapping incident. Many of them got very angry also. But it is important to discuss as to why did that youth slap,” he said.
“Sharad Pawar is the agriculture minister at the centre and the power minister of the state is from his own party (NCP). Today after 22 years, the electric pumps of the farmers still get burnt due to low voltage, the crops get burnt, the transformers get burnt, but the politicians still don't get angry. This is unfortunate,” Hazare said.
“The farmers protested at Mawal near Pune. They were shot at. Three farmers died. But the politicians still did not get angry about it,” he said.
As Agriculture Minister, Pawar imported rotten wheat and since it was not edible, the wheat was buried in huge pits, he said, adding crores of public money was wasted but none of the politicians got angry about it.
NCP leadership was quick to term Hazare's tirade as uncalled for and even irrelevant.
“There was no need for Hazare to comment on the issue despite the fact that his earlier comments on the (slapping) incident had evoked sharp reaction. We do not know why is he raking up the issue?,” NCP MLA Jitendra Avhad told PTI in Mumbai.
“Padmasinh Patil, a relative of Sharad Pawarji, who was a minister in Pawar's cabinet, indulged in corruption while he was minister. I demanded an enquiry. When enquiry did not take place, I started a movement because of which the enquiry had to be ordered. The minister was found guilty and he had to be removed from the cabinet,” said Hazare.
Patil had been arrested by the CBI in June, 2009 for allegedly hiring contract killers to murder Congress leader Pawanraje Nimbalkar, who was shot dead on Pune-Mumbai Expressway in 2006, and was subsequently suspended from the party.
Hazare had even filed a complaint against Patil alleging that the leader had conspired to murder him and even resorted to hunger strike in Ralegaon Siddhi seeking action against Patil for allegedly plotting to kill him. The Bombay High Court on October 1, 2009 granted anticipatory bail to Patil in connection with the said complaint.
“Many people got angry due to one slap, but when the people who have dedicated their entire life for the society and country are victimised, then no one gets angry,” Hazare said.
“This is unfortunate. I have a request - if you have anger against me and want to burn my effigies, then continue doing that as you have been doing it till now. Do whatever you want to insult me, but do not damage national property because it belongs to all of us. Protect it,” he said.Hazare alleged that Pawar's supporters hurled “choicest abuses” against him.
“I have kept a CD of the same for my record. At an appropriate time, I will play it before the public,” he said.
Patil was not available for comments. Hazare further said, “the politicians got so angry with that one slap that many buses were burnt, national property was destroyed, many shops were damaged, many private vehicles were damaged, but this did not make anyone angry. This is unfortunate”.
Recalling numerous movements run by him in the last twenty years, the anti-graft crusader said, “We never allowed any national property or private property to be damaged. On 16 August, 2011, crores of people came on the streets but not even a single person picked up a stone. There is nothing wrong in participating in movements but the movements should be non-violent.”