Slapgate: NCP condemns Anna for remark

Ralegan Siddhi: Tempers ran high at Anna Hazare`s native village when NCP supporters descended there to protest his remarks following yesterday`s attack on Sharad Pawar, sparking a face-off with locals and anti-graft campaigner`s aides.

Hazare, who himself arrived to face the agitated NCP workers, clarified that he had condemned the assault on Pawar, but questioned why were they so agitated over the incident and did not express the same anger when farmers were beaten.

Several slogan-shouting supporters of the NCP, which has called a bandh to protest the incident, had arrived here from adjoining areas, to demand that Hazare express regret over his controversial statement.

As the protesters marched towards the landmark Yadav Baba temple, once the abode of Hazare, the security personnel deployed there stopped them.

Soon, a large number of villagers, including women and children collected at the spot and squatted in front of the demonstrators. The NCP supporters also sat on a dharna.

A police contingent present for providing security to Hazare intervened to calm frayed tempers as the two sides readied for a face-off.

Later, Hazare arrived on the scene and said he had already denounced the attack on NCP president.

"I have already condemned the attack on Sharad Pawar," he told them.

The Gandhian, however, wanted to know why the NCP activists were so agitated over the assault on Pawar.

"Why are you so angry now? Why don`t you get angry when the farmers are lathicharged?" Hazare asked.

Hazare had committed a faux pas in front of TV cameras with his reaction to the attack on Pawar, first appearing to respond with contempt and later condemning it.

"He got slapped! Only one slap?" he had said to a group of journalists.

He had, however, later condemned the attack, saying there was no place for violence in a democracy.