Upset over not getting an appointment with Rahul Gandhi, the sarpanch of Anna Hazare’s village and his colleagues today decided to return home saying now even if they get an appointment, the village will decide whether to meet the Congress leader or not.
Congress P T Thomas, who had interacted with them and had reportedly fixed the much-talked about meeting, however apologised for the “communication gap” that led to the confusion.
“We have come here after being told that we have an appointment with Rahul Gandhi on October 18 at 9 am. We came here believing the words of the MP. Now the MP says there was a communication gap. We are returning home.
“We have said in our letter seeking appointment with Gandhi that we want to meet him as suggested by the MP. We were contacted by Thomas’ office several times. Even Rahul Gandhi’s office called the sarpanch several times,” Suresh Pathare, a close aide of Hazare, told reporters here.
He said now they are not meeting Gandhi as it appeared that there were some “ego problems” and “the village panchayat will decide whether to meet him if an appointment comes in the future”.
His comments came after the six-member team from Ralegan Siddhi led by sarpanch Jaisingh Mapari met Thomas at his residence this morning to sort out the matter. Mapari also claimed that he received several calls from Gandhi’s office on the issue of appointment. Thomas said his office “mistakenly” asked Mapari to come to Delhi after October 15. “There was a communication gap. I apologise to the sarpanch and others for this,” he said.
However, he denied Pathare’s contention that it was at his insistence that they decided to meet Gandhi.
Thomas said he had gone to Ralegan Siddhi a month back to study the rural development programmes initiated by Hazare there. “There I interacted with the sarpanch and others during which they suggested that they wanted to meet Gandhi. I assured them whatever help I could do, I will do. They sent a letter which was forwarded to Gandhi’s office,” he said.
“Unfortunately in my absence, my office asked the sarpanch to come to Delhi. There was a communication gap,” he said, adding that he was not trying to get an appointment for the delegation with Gandhi anymore.
Patare said they did not come to Delhi with a political agenda and their proposed meeting had nothing to do with Jan Lokpal Bill, for which Hazare is leading an intensive people’s movement.
He said Thomas was impressed with the programmes in Ralegan Siddhi and wanted them to discuss it with Gandhi who is also interested in rural development programmes.
After reports about the meeting came in media, Thomas sought to set right the “confusion” and “rumours” yesterday by issuing a press release saying though the sarpanch and the deputy sarpanch of the village had made a request to him in this regard, no meeting has been confirmed with Gandhi.
Meanwhile in Pune, Hazare’s nephew Vinayak Deshmukh said that the Gandhian has not given any invitation to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to visit Ralegan Siddhi.
Reacting to reports that the Gandhian had invited Rahul to visit his native village in Ahmednagar district, Deshmukh told that if the Congress MP expressed his wish to see the developmental work in Ralegan, Hazare would not be averse to it.
“There is no invitation from Hazare to Rahul Gandhi to visit Ralegan…if Rahul shows interest in visiting Ralegan to see various projects there, Hazare would be not averse to it,” he said.