M A I N   N E W S

Hazare asks Sibal to quit panel if he’s sceptical of Lokpal Bill
Vibha Sharma/TNS

New Delhi, April 11
Even before the 10-member joint committee set up to draft an effective Lokpal Bill meets for the first time, controversies came visiting.

While Anna Hazare asked HRD Minister Kapil Sibal to resign from the panel “if he feels nothing will come out of this institution”, another disagreement regarding video recording of the meeting proceedings made the Congress appeal to Hazare that he should not let procedural issues bog down the end result.

Reacting to a reported statement of the HRD Minister on the institution of Lokpal, Hazare said: “If Sibal feels nothing will happen due to the Lokpal Bill, he should resign from the joint committee as soon as possible.”

Sibal, however, today clarified that he meant that the scope of the Bill was different from problems of the common man, adding that he was on the same page as Anna Hazare on the proposed legislation.

Activist Arvind Kejriwal, however, felt Sibal should not have made “sweeping” statements on the Lokpal Bill which raised doubts about the government’s “seriousness” in bringing the legislation.

The BJP also waded into the controversy saying Sibal’s comments raised doubts over government’s intentions. The Congress, however, countered by saying that “we should not queer the pitch”.

“One should not get into charges and counter-charges when a positive process has been set in motion,” Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said. Not wanting to upset the applecart so soon after reaching an agreement with Hazare, the government was non-committal on his demand for video recording of the committee’s proceedings. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is the chairperson of the committee, said the government would take a “call on the issue when the panel meets”. The committee will hold its first meeting on April 16.









Cong smells conspiracy
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, April 11
Furious at being forced to accept Anna Hazare’s demands on drafting of a Lokpal Bill, Congress leaders are questioning the social activist’s motives behind heaping praise on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi when the BJP’s poster boy has failed to appoint a Lokayukta in his own state.

Although Anna Hazare was quick to clarify that he had only lauded Modi for the development work he has undertaken in Gujarat, Congress leaders believe that larger forces are at work to discredit the UPA government and destabilise the country.

“Isn’t it ironical that Anna Hazare should single out two non-Congress chief ministers - Modi and Nitish Kumar- for praise when neither of them has appointed a Lokayukta in their states,” remarkeda senior Congress leader. This position has been lying vacant for the last eight years in Gujarat. Officially, the Congress is treading very carefully on Anna Hazare, treating him with proverbial kid gloves. Privately, however, seething party leaders and Congress ministers are convinced that this campaign has been orchestrated and choreographed by “sinister” forces which are unhappy with the emergence of India as a strong economic and political power. While no party leader is naming anybody or speaking on record, it is also being suggested that disgruntled elements in the corporate sector could be responsible for fuelling the public anger. Congress leaders and UPA ministers are mystified over the speed with which the agitation picked up momentum, the arrival of film stars and other celebrities at Jantar Mantar and how similar posters, banners, badges and “Hazare topis” surfaced at all the protest venues . Pointing to the timing of the campaign, Congress insiders the interests of the corporate sector were fairly evident as the campaign was launched soon after Cricket World Cup ended and a day before the IPL cricket season commenced. “After all, there is a lot of advertising money riding on these events,” said a Congress leader sarcastically.

Stating that there is a definite pattern to this ongoing campaign against the UPA government, Congress leaders and ministers said those heading the agitation may be well-intentioned but they do not realise that they are being used by “larger forces” which are out to destabilise the UPA government. In this connection, they pointed out that the entire campaign was targeted at the Congress, while there was no mention of the corruption in BJP-ruled states like Karnataka and Uttarakhand which have had their share of corruption scandals.Congress leaders are also raising questions over the manner in which Anna Hazare and his supporters had drafted the Jan Lokpal Bill which, the insist, should be the basis of discussions when the joint drafting committee begins discussions on the proposed legislation. “If the Lokpal Bill is so important and key in rooting out corruption, why didn’t they have a wider debate on this?” asked another senior Congress leader.









Modi thanks Hazare

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who on Sunday came in for Anna’s praise, on Monday feared that the veteran social activist may now be subjected to a “vilification” campaign by a certain group “inimical” to Gujarat.

“Yesterday I heard about your blessings for me and my state. I fear that you will be subjected to vilification. A certain group inimical to Gujarat will not let go of 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,” Modi said in an open letter to Hazare.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |