Pune: Social activist Anna Hazare will observe a week-long 'maun vrat (fasting into silence)' from October 17 at his native Ralegan Siddhi village for "peace of soul", a close aide of the Gandhian said here on Saturday.

"Anna has been continuously interacting with people after ending his 12-day-fast for a strong Lokpal bill in Delhi in August and this had put a lot of strain on him...He need some
respite from this...He will observe a week-long 'maun vrat' for 'atmashanti'," India against Corruption activist Shyam Asava said.

"Even otherwise, he observes 'maun vrat' periodically in his spiritual pursuit," he said.

The vow of silence came close on the heels of the recent attack and controversy involving key 'Anna Team' member Prashant Bhushan, who had advocated plebiscite in Kashmir.

Hazare subsequently distanced himself from Bhushan's statement saying he did not agree with it and that it was the senior lawyer's personal view.

Meanwhile, Hazare said Arvind Kejriwal met him on Saturday at Ralegan Siddhi.

They discussed several issues, including attacks on IAC activists and Prashant Bhushan's remarks on Kashmir.

The anti-graft crusader said the 'maun vrat' is not on any specific issue but for self purification and strengthening.

Anna reminds Congress on Lokpal Bill


Anna Hazare on Saturday said he will work with Congress across the country if the UPA government brings a strong Lokpal Bill in the Winter session of Parliament and keeps its words on other reforms.

But he also sent out a warning to the Congress that if the Lokpal Bill was not passed in the Winter session he will work against Congress in the coming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and four other states like in Hisar.

In a media interview before going on 'Maun Vrat', the Gandhian said after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's latest letter to him he was encouraged that the government would
bring a strong Lokpal.

"If the government brings a strong Lokpal and keeps its other promises, why should I oppose the Congress. In fact we will work with the Congress," he said referring to the Lokpal Bill and to electoral reforms including right to reject, decentralisation and more powers to gram sabhas.

Seeking to dispel the notion that Team Anna is anti-Congress, he denied that Team Anna had against Congress in Hisar at the behest of BJP and RSS.

"I have only seen him (RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat) on TV, I have never met him or spoken to him. These are all allegations. In politics political parties are ready to do anything. The Congress, BJP and RSS are together conspiring to defame Anna. I have nothing to do with the RSS or BJP," Hazare said.

Hazare denied that that he had received a letter from the RSS. "I don't even recognise Ram Madhav," he said when asked why the RSS leader was allowed on stage during the Jantar
Mantar agitation.

He said he had never thanked BJP president Nitin Gadkari for the BJP'S support. "If someone else from my team did, I can't say."

In a rebuff to Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan, Hazare said he completely disassociated himself with his remarks on Kashmir.

"I am against anybody who talks about dividing the country. I am very uncomfortable with what Bhushan has said. Our core committee will meet to decide on his continuing as a
team member. After it meets. I will take a decision."

Hazare also said Arvind Kejriwal was wrong in saying that Anna Hazare is above Parliament. "Arvind Kejriwal has not told me what he has said. But if he did say Anna is above Parliament, it's wrong. People are above Parliament, not Anna."

He said he would tell his colleagues not to exceed their brief and speak on each and every issue.

Hazare laughed off Congress leader Digvijay Singh's claim that he was being set up as a Presidential candidate in 2012.

"I neither have the aptitude nor the desire to become President. In any case, if I become President I won't be able to do what I have been doing for society now."

He said the Congress and BJP were shooting in the dark by spreading such rumours.

Congress avoids comment

Meanwhile, Congress on Saturday refrained from commenting on Anna Hazare's plans to take a vow of silence to regain his health. "What can we comment over his vow of silence?", party General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters in New Delhi.

In a tongue-in-cheek remark, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said people might like to know whether the vow of silence was applicable to members of the Team Anna.

Agnivesh cautions Team Anna

Swami Agnivesh, who was earlier associated with activist Anna Hazare, on Saturday demanded an apology from Team Anna members for trying to project the Gandhian as a "cult figure" and asked them to refrain from slogans like 'Anna is India and India is Anna'.

"There should not be any attempt to create a cult figure and the people associated with Anna's movement must apologise for this. Cult leads to a kind of dictatorship. It is elitist
in origin and the slogan 'Anna is India and India is Anna' should not be used," Agnivesh said in Delhi.

Participating in an open discussion on the Lokpal Bill organised by All India Confederation of SC/ST organisations, Agnivesh said there is no place for individual worship in the country.

"There is no place for individual worship in this country. We will never accept it whenever a person is represented as god or the country," he said.

Without naming Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal, Agnivesh sought an apology from him for his statement that Hazare is above Parliament.

"Whoever said that his leader is above the Parliament, should apologise. Parliament is a temple of democracy which represents the country. Even if there are few corrupt people
there, its dignity should not be tampered with," he said.

While he condemned the attack on senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan for speaking in favour of plebiscite in Kashmir, Agnivesh rubbished the option and said the government should
take steps to include Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in India.

JPN/Agencies