Keep away from politics:Ramesh to Popat Pawar

Pune: Hailing the progress of Hivre-Bazar, a model village in Ahmednagar district, Union Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh has counselled its promoter-social activist Popat Pawar – not to take to the Gandhian ways, while working for his mission, in an oblique reference to Anna Hazare, whose village Ralegan Siddhi lies in the vicinity.

Describing Hivre-Bazar as "Shirdi " of rural development, Ramesh, addressing the Gram Panchayat on Saturday, also advised Pawar to stay away from politics. "I want you not to undertake a hunger strike or wear a Gandhi cap. Please work for rural development, but keep away from politics," he said.

Later, speaking to reporters, Ramesh, however, praised Hazare for the transformation brought about by him in Ralegan Siddhi, known for its novel water conservation and management in the arid region.

"There is no doubt about what Anna Hazare had done in Ralegan in the last 30 years, transforming it. The work done by Popat Pawar in Hivre Bazar is equally remarkable, but has not got the same attention," he said, adding that both the villages are worthy examples of rural development in the country.

Refusing to get drawn into any controversy, Pawar, who is also working president of Maharashtra government`s "Model village scheme" said, Hazare was his "source of inspiration" and there was no question of any "competition".

Ramesh said, his visit to Hivre-Bazar was not a "political" one and he had no intention of presenting Pawar as an alternative to Hazare.