Anna's doublespeak: Condemns attack on Pawar, but says 'why only one slap?'

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New Delhi:  In a classic case of doublespeak, veteran anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare today, in response to the attack on Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, first reacted with sarcasm and then hurriedly condemned it. (Read: Sharad Pawar slapped for 'price rise')

"He got slapped! Only one slap?" he said to a group of journalists who broke out in laughter at his reaction. But the octogenarian hastened to condemn the episode, saying such acts of violence were not good.

"He (the attacker) may be very angry. This is not good. Anger is not good. Our Constitution does not tell us to be violent with anyone," Mr Hazare told reporters in Ralegan Siddhi.

On being questioned over the Gandhian's remarks, Mr Pawar took a dig at Mr Hazare, calling him a "new Gandhian", who had given a "new definition" to the philosophy espoused by the Mahatma Gandhi. "He (Hazare) has a new definition about Gandhism. He is a new Gandhian," the Union Agriculture Minister retorted.

The Congress too criticised Mr Hazare's reaction to the attack on Mr Pawar. "There is nothing Gandhian about violence. It is a contradiction in terms. If you are Gandhian, then I think the first premise of being a Gandhian is your commitment to non-violence," party spokesperson Manish Tewari remarked.

Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah also condemned the veteran activist's remarks on the microblogging site Twitter. "I am shocked at Anna's initial reaction. God help Gandhians if this is how they justify such behavior. "Only one slap?" and then laughter!!!", Mr Abdullah tweeted.

As his 'only one slap' remark created ripples, the Gandhian clarified, saying that he was interacting with nearly 200-300 visitors when he suddenly got news of Mr Pawar which got him concerned.

"I was asking them, was he only slapped and anything else happened to him," he said. After that he spoke to the media and told them that it wasn't a slap on the face of Mr Pawar but a slap on democracy.

However, he added that the government needed to think about how to keep the anger of the aam aadmi in check. "People are angry. There is corruption and price rise...there is the issue of Jan Lokpal....people are angry over so many things," he said.

When pointed out that senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Yashwant Sinha, had warned of violence if price rise went unchecked, Mr Hazare said, "There should not be violence in a democracy."

(With PTI inputs)


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