M A I N   N E W S

Sonia is terse with Anna
Tells him she does not support or encourage the politics of “smear campaigns”
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 19
In a clipped reply to social activist Anna Hazare’s three-page letter charging the Congress with maligning his image, party president Sonia Gandhi today said she had already made her views clear on the issue in an earlier letter.

All-party meeting likely in July 

The all-party meeting to seek views across the political spectrum on the issue of inclusion of the Prime Minister under the Lokpal Bill is likely to be held in the first week of next month. Government sources indicated that the meeting is expected to be convened soon after June 30 by which time the work of the Joint Committee to draft the bill will be over. Meanwhile, the Left parties have sought a draft of the Bill before 
the meeting. 

As the government and the Team Anna prepare for yet another face-off on the contentious Jan Lokpal Bill on Monday, Sonia’s terse four-line reply in Hindi clearly indicates the growing differences between the Congress-led UPA government and the Anna brigade on the issue.

“I had received your letter on June 9, but as I was out of station, I could not reply. Meanwhile, you have made the letter public. I will try to find out more on this issue,” she said, writing in her capacity as the chairperson of the National Advisory Council. She went further on to add that, “however, the main points you have raised in the letter have already been addressed by me in my letter dated April 19, 2011.”

Sources said even though Sonia made it a point to reply to Anna’s letter but the tough underlying message through the short reply is clear that the government as also the Congress are in no mood to take it lying down from civil society members.

This is not the first time Sonia and Anna have exchanged letters on alleged “smear campaigns” by leaders of the Congress against civil society members in the joint drafting committee on the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Soon after the committee was constituted, Anna had written to the Congress President complaining about the “smear” campaign against civil society members Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan and asking her to advise her “colleagues” not to try to derail the process of drafting of law. Sonia replied on April 19, saying that she was not in favour of smear campaigns. “As for statements appearing in the media, let me assure you that I do not support or encourage the politics of smear campaigns,” she said, in her earlier detailed letter.

She also said the Lokpal Bill was very much a part of the agenda of NAC headed by her. “I believe there is an urgent necessity to combat graft and corruption. I strongly support the institution of a Lokpal that is consistent with the practices and conventions of our parliamentary democracy”.





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