New Delhi: Social activist Anna Hazare's praise of Narendra Modi on Monday fetched a prompt 'thank you' from the Gujarat chief minister himself but danseuse-activist Mallika Sarabhai, a vocal supporter of the anti-graft movement, expressed her disapproval and asked Hazare to retract.
The Congress, in a guarded reaction, said that no secular person can condone the 'black events' of 2002 in Gujarat.
Sarabhai, one of the prominent supporters of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption crusade, on Monday asked the social reformer to retract his praise of Modi for development work.
Sarabhai, who spearheaded support for Hazare in the state, said she will distance herself from the Lokpal Bill movement if he does not take back his endorsement of Modi.
In her e-mail to Hazare, Sarabhai said: 'We are deeply shocked by your endorsement of Narendra Modi's rural development. There has been little or no rural development in this state. In fact, village grazing lands and irrigated farmlands have been stealthily taken by the government and sold off at ridiculous prices to a small club of industrialists.'
Sarabhai said there had been no Lokayukta (ombudsman) in Gujarat for nearly seven years, so hundreds of complaints against corruption are lying unheard.
Modi Monday wrote a letter to Hazare thanking him for praising the development work in the state but expressed apprehension that the crusader would face vilification for his remarks.
In the letter, uploaded on his blog, Modi said: 'I happen to be a co-traveller in your crusade albeit indirectly. It was yesterday (Sunday) that I got the encouraging news of your expressing kind words towards Gujarat and me. I am fortunate and grateful to get your blessings.'
Modi said that after Hazare praised him and Gujarat, he feared that the social activist will be subjected to vilification by forces inimical to the state.
'A certain group inimical to Gujarat will not miss this opportunity to malign your love, sacrifice, penance and commitment to truth. They will try to tarnish your name because you spoke well of me and my state,' he said and added that such forces had earlier targeted actor Amitabh Bachchan when he promoted Gujarat Tourism.
He said the same forces had also targeted Maulana Ghulam Vastanvi of Gujarat, who was elected as head of the Darul Uloom of Deoband, and Major General I.S. Singha after they praised development in the state.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that questions about praise of Modi should be put to Hazare, but added that the social activist had clarified his position.
'You really should ask Mr. Hazare and not us but our stand is and has been clear that anybody who understands or is dedicated to the principles and cause of secularism, cannot in any manner - directly or indirectly - support, condone or justify the black events in Gujarat and Mr. Hazare has made that clear as well in so many words,' Singhvi said.
Hazare Sunday clarified that he was opposed to communalism after he praised Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for their developmental efforts.