Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Thursday asked his supporters to file a defamation lawsuit against Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Nawab Malik after he accused Anna Hazare of taking money to sit for a hunger strike.
Mr Malik alleged that Anna Hazare takes money from advocates to sit on protests and go on hunger strikes.
Following the controversial statement made by Nawab Malik, Anna Hazare refused to meet NCP leaders, who were supposed to meet him on Thursday.
Anna Hazare, the 81-year-old social activist, is currently protesting (since January 30) against the Centre and the Maharashtra government for not setting up a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in the state.
"If a senior leader of some political party (Nawab Malik) says that I have taken money from someone to start a hunger strike, then he should explain from where I took money. I have asked my workers to file a defamation suit against him," Anna Hazare said while speaking on the second day of his hunger strike as part of the 'Jan Andolan Satyagraha' in Maharashtra's Ralegan Siddhi.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Anna Hazare said, "Over 88 blocks in Maharashtra are protesting and supporting us in our movement. However, the government is trying to interfere as they want us to stop."
As per provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, a Lokpal - an anti-corruption authority or ombudsman - would be set up at the Central level, while a Lokayukta will be set up in each state.
Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan, who has been acting as an emissary between the government and Anna Hazare, had on Tuesday, urged the activist to cancel the agitation, claiming that almost all the demands made by him were fulfilled.
"His first demand was implementing Swaminathan Commission recommendations, that farmers should get 1.5 times the MSP (Minimum Support Price). I think that demand has been fulfilled," Mr Mahajan told reporters in Mumbai.
The Devendra Fadnavis Cabinet had on Tuesday decided to bring the office of the chief minister of Maharashtra under the jurisdiction of Lokayukta.
(Inputs from ANI and PTI)