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BJP’s Mahajan, Cong’s Vikhe Patil meet Hazare

Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan and senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil Sunday met social activist Anna Hazare who is on a hunger strike in his native Ralegan Siddhi village in Ahmednagar, over 240 kilometres from Mumbai.

Hazare, the face of the Lokpal movement, has been demanding the appointment of anti-corruption watchdogs at the Centre and in Maharashtra and resolution of farmers’ issue.

Mahajan, who came with a letter from Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, told reporters the CM had asked Hazare to withdraw his hunger strike as most of his demands had already been announced in the Union budget and considered by the Maharashtra government.

Mahajan, the state’s Water Resources minister and Jamner MLA, told PTI that he would be visiting Ralegan Siddhi again on Monday to hold talks with the anti-graft crusader.

Shyam Asawa, a spokesperson for Hazare, said the latter had refused to give up his fast unless concrete steps were taken to implement his demands.

Vikhe Patil, meanwhile, accused the ruling BJP of “forgetting” Hazare after “taking political mileage” out of the latter’s anti-graft Lokpal movement.

In a statement issued Sunday, Vikhe Patil said he met Hazare at Ralegan Siddhi in the afternoon and urged him to call off the fast on account of his ill-health.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly said the BJP, when it was in the opposition, took political mileage out of Hazare’s Lokpal stir but had now forgotten him.

He told reporters after meeting Hazare that it was the Congress which had passed the Lokpal Bill in 2013.

Vikhe Patil said the BJP stood exposed as it had done nothing on the issue, which in turn had forced Hazare to sit on a hunger strike.

He also hit out at the Shiv Sena and alleged that its concern for Hazare was not genuine.

“The Sena should have pulled out of the government if it supported the issues raised by Hazare,” Vikhe Patil asserted.

Earlier in the day, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had pledged support to Hazare’s fight against corruption.

Thackeray, however, had asked Hazare to take to the streets in this fight to create an awakening among people, instead of giving up his life by fasting.

“Anna should give up his fast and lead an agitation over his demands, and I assure Shiv Sena’s support wherever possible,” the Sena chief had said.

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