There is still no invitation to Anna Hazare for the Arvind Kejriwal event

PUNE: The social crusade Anna Hazare has not yet received an invitation to the oath ceremony of the Prime Minister of Delhi, ArvindKejriwalon, on Sunday.

During his first term, Kejriwal had invited Anna for the swearing-in ceremony, but Hazare, although he offered his wishes, refused to attend due to health problems. Even after this, Kejriwal called him, but Anna refused to answer his phone calls, a close associate revealed.

He said no invitation was received at this time. When TOI tried to communicate with Kejriwal, his secretary said the prime minister is not talking to any mediator.

On Tuesday, Hazare simply smiled and rejected any comment after learning of Kejriwal's crushing victory in the Delhi assembly polls on February 11 and his oath ceremony on Sunday.

Anna has categorically stated that she will not comment on Kejriwal's return to the office, her secretary Sanjay Pathade told TOI on Friday. The Gandhian is observing 'maun' (total silence) since December 20 to protest against the excessive delay in the execution of those convicted in the Nirbhaya case and will break it only after they are hanged. Write your answer on a piece of paper when you want to comment, Pathade said.

Pathade had informed Hazare about Kejriwal's victory. “Anna wrote on a piece of paper asking for the party to break up. I told him that AAP had won 62 seats and the BJP8. He smiled and wrote Theek aahe (okay). I told him that the media wanted his reaction, but he said he won't comment, ”Pathade said.

However, residents of Hazare's hometown, Ralegan Siddhi, broke cookies to celebrate Kejriwal's victory on Tuesday. Not long ago, villagers were upset with Kejriwal and BJP official Kiran Bedi for leaving Hazare and choosing to join politics against his wishes. There was a feeling that they had used the Hazare Lokpal movement in 2011 to be the center of attention and then abandoned it.

But the former associates said it was Hazare who had benefited from the presence of Kejriwal and Bedi in their central committee. “They (Bedi, Kejriwal) have a clean image. They were good negotiators and helpful in dealing with government officials. They added weight to the core team as they knew when to go back a couple of steps to make long-term gains, ”said a former associate. In his absence, Hazare has become too rigid and will have limited success and support, they added.

The villagers of Ralegan Siddhi are happy with Kejriwal's success. We consider him one of them because it is the product of Anna's anti-corruption and Lokpal movement. He was a regular visitor to our village, said a villager who was part of the celebrations.

Hazare's associates in the town said that although he has not forgiven Kejriwal, he does have a soft corner for him. “There is some softening of the heart. He says that Kejriwal is better compared to other politicians, said a close assistant from Hazare.

He said Hazare still feels that Kejriwal cheated the anti-corruption movement by joining politics. “Anna wanted to create a permanent pressure group that launched agitations on important issues. I thought that group can make any government make the decisions of the people. When commission report V K Shunglu accused the Kejriwal government in 2017 for circumventing the law, nepotism and financial irregularities, Anna was very upset, ”she said.

During a previous interview with TOI, Hazare had said he didn't feel he was being used when member after member of Team Anna joined politics. “We live in a democracy. How can I press them to do something? What matters most to me is the support of ordinary people, ”he had said.

But the experience made him wiser, Hazare had said. “I received more than one lakh of requests from people who want to join me. Now, I insist on a commitment that states that the individual will not use my name or photo for personal gain and that he/she will have no connection to any political party, ”he said.