ITANAGAR, Dec 18: Social activist Anna Hazare’s visit to Patna for a rally was cut short when his flight from Lilabari to Guwahati was cancelled due to a technical snag on Sunday. This has left his supporters questioning the Arunachal Pradesh government’s treatment of the icon.
Hazare returned to Itanagar after hours of waiting at the Lilabari airport.
Speaking to this daily, social activist Payi Gyadi said that the state government did not heed requests and representations to accord the Padma Bhushan recipient the ‘state guest’ status and also denied services of a chopper to fly Hazare directly to Guwahati.
He informed that they had requested for permission to hold a public rally at the main ground of Indira Gandhi Park on Saturday, besides chopper service, and allocating a room to Hazare at the government guest house in Naharlagun.
“The government thinks that his visit was against the government, but it was not. It was only to generate awareness on the mass movement to implement the Lokpal Bill,” said Gyadi.
“When Bollywood celebrities can be given special treatment, why cannot the government give the same treatment to a Padma Bhushan recipient?” he questioned.
Gyadi also informed that the BJP government in Assam also denied Anna the status of state guest.
Meanwhile, State Protocol Officer Dani Salu informed this daily that the government has a set rule and a list of people to be treated as state guests.
“We showed them the rules, and their request was put up for the government’s consideration, but we had to take in the overall view,” he said.
“According to the rules, state guests are government guests – such as judges and ministers. They are invited by the state government primarily for government-related work. Even when higher officials and ministers come for personal work, they would not be state guests at that time,” he added.
Earlier, on Saturday, Hazare had addressed a gathering at the tennis court in Indira Gandhi Park and pressed for implementing the Lokpal Bill. He had also criticised the state government for not taking concrete measures to investigate the cause of former chief minister Kalikho Pul’s death.
Hazare was on a tour of various Indian states to garner support for the proposed mass agitation against corruption from 23 March in New Delhi.
Following the cancellation of his trip to Patna, he has left directly for New Delhi.