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Hazare denies rift in Team Anna

Mumbai: Anna Hazare today dismissed as "media creation" the reports about a rift in Team Anna against the backdrop of yoga guru Ramdev snubbing Arvind Kejriwal at a joint rally in Delhi for targeting individual leaders.

"There were no differences over the issue of Ramdev visiting BJP president Nitin Gadkari and the yoga guru`s public disapproval of Kejriwal for naming the ministers in their rally in Delhi on Sunday. There are no problems among us. The media is creating it," he said. The yoga guru wanted the speeches to revolve around black money and Lokpal. "He did not want diversion of issues," Hazare said.

To a query on why India Against Corruption (IAC) was not tagged with the the Mumbai rally organised by the Lokayukta Manch and Bhrashtrachar Virodhi Andolan today, Hazare said all agencies fighting corruption had joined hands with him. Hazare`s remarks came in the backdrop of a few IAC members complaining that they were not allowed to enter the venue of the press conference.

Targeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the auction of coal blocks during his tenure as Coal Minister, Hazare said there was a "room for suspicion" as he always thought the Prime Minister to be a clean and honest man who has to function under a "remote control". "…after going through the CAG papers regarding auction of coal blocks, I realised that there is a room for suspicion. The loss to state exchequer is to the tune of Rs 2 lakh crore.

The Prime Minister may not have directly benefited but the money has gone somewhere. Hence, there should be a probe by a retired judge," he said. Replying to a query on why Team Anna is not moving the court on the issue of corruption charges against 15 ministers, including the Prime Minister, Hazare said, "by the time results are out, their tenure will end".

"The Prime Minister has said that the country`s economic situation is not good. Why should then he and MPs take salaries which is actually people`s money till the situation improves. They are the servants of the people," Hazare said, adding that the Parliamentarians should introspect on whether they are doing right thing by drawing salaries.

Rejecting the charge that he was anti-Congress, he said, "due to my agitation, the ministers of Shiv Sena, BJP and NCP have gone to jail. If the Congress passes the Lokpal Bill, I will be happy to work with that party". He accused the Congress-led UPA at Centre of repeatedly going back on its promise of enacting the anti-ombudsman legislation. "They do not want to do it because half of the Cabinet will go to jail. The first one to go will be Home Minister P Chidambaram," he alleged.

Hazare said the Prime Minister "insulted" the Parliament by not honouring the resolution passed by Lok Sabha last year of enacting the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill and the Citizens Charter. He appealed Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar to support the agitation for a strong Lokpal and Lokayukta as the cricket legend represents the youth of the country. The anti-corruption crusader also denied that he ever said that all MPs are corrupt. "Some of the MPs and bureaucrats are good. All like- minded people should join hands to bring a strong anti- corruption law," he said. Training his guns at the Maharashtra government, Hazare said he wanted a probe by a retired judge into the water conservation projects.

"Despite having pumped in crores of rupees in various schemes, Maharashtra has not been able to tide over the water scarcity and drought like conditions. Providing water by tankers is no solution…What is needed is the long-term policy to scientifically utilise water," he added. Hazare also took a dig at Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi who recently flew down to two villages in Satara district to assess the drought situation, saying "you need to take a deep study of the problems".

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