Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare's lavish praise for politician Raj Thackeray has upset other members of his team.
Earlier today, Anna met Mr Thackeray, who heads the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena or MNS, in Mumbai. "Raj has expressed his willingness to support a strong and effective Lokayukta in Maharashtra," Anna said. He praised the politician for initiatives like holding exams for candidates who contested local municipal elections in February.
But Mr Thackeray's party is also synonymous with moral policing, often enforced with violence, and a strong stand against workers who move to Mumbai from other parts of the country.
"What Anna has said and in which context, I don't know but we are completely not happy with the ways of Raj Thackeray," said lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, a prominent member of the core group that's often referred to as Team Anna.
Anna's visit to Mumbai today included appointments with other politicians including chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Raj's estranged uncle, Bal Thackeray who heads the Shiv Sena. Anna wanted to raise support for a strong Lokayukta or ombudsman with the power to investigate complaints of corruption against politicians and bureaucrats at the centre and state level.
Earlier this month, Mr Thackeray generated new tension when the MNS threatened to disrupt Bihar's centenary celebrations to be attended by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Mumbai. However, in a climbdown, Mr Thackeray later said he has no objection to the celebrations following an assurance from the Bihar Chief Minister that the event has no political agenda.
Last year, Anna gave his team some heartburn when he praised Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the development accomplished by his state. Critics pointed out that Mr Modi has blocked efforts to appoint a Lokayukta in Gujarat for several years.
More recently, Anna's aides were upset by his comments on a joint campaign with yoga guru Baba Ramdev to bring back focus on the Jan Lokpal and the issue of black money. They were going to fast together on June 3 at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Sources within Team Anna had told NDTV that they were not informed about this tie-up either by Mr Hazare or Baba Ramdev.