Thomas apologises; Anna aides head back home
New Delhi: Anna Hazare has called his close aides, who came to Delhi to meet Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, back to Ralegan Siddhi after the meeting turned controversial.
While Hazare`s personal assistant Suresh Pathare, sarpanch of Anna’s village Ralegan Siddhi Jaisingrao Mapari, and Yadavbaba Vidyalaya School principal Ramdas Ugale came to the national capital yesterday after receiving confirmation that they can meet the Gandhi scion at 9 am on Tuesday, Congress MP from Kerala PT Thomas said there was no such meeting scheduled though a request was made.
Though Thomas later owned up the entire blame for the goof-up, saying there was a miscommunication from his office, the entire matter has upset Anna and his aides.
Thomas, who had interacted with Anna aides and had reportedly fixed the much-talked about meeting, apologised for the "communication gap" that led to the confusion.
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.
"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,” Pathare, a close aide of Hazare, told reporters.
"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," Pathare added.
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".
Seeking to set right the `confusion` and `rumours`, Thomas had on Monday issued a press release saying though the sarpanch and the deputy sarpanch of the village had made a request to him in this regard, but no meeting was confirmed.
The confusion persisted amidst reports that Hazare has invited Rahul Gandhi to visit Ralegan Siddhi and see firsthand rural development in his village.
"Anna`s message is clear that Rahul is welcome to Ralegan. He has high expectations from Rahul about the leadership of the new generation," Vinayakrao Deshmukh, Hazare`s nephew, told a leading English daily.
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