M A I N   N E W S

Cong goes ballistic against Anna
Points to Sawant panel report, says Hazare himself corrupt z Prove charges, says Gandhian 
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
The gloves are off. A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave a cutting reply to Anna Hazare’s letter against him, the Congress on Sunday launched a no-holds-barred broadside against the social activist, calling him corrupt and accusing him of misleading the nation.

Hazare rubbished the charges with an equally biting riposte. Hitting right back at the Congress, he dared the government to prove the corruption charges levelled against him. The social activist said that even if the government now agreed to the Lokpal Bill prepared by civil society members, he would not end his fast till charges against him were proved wrong. “The charges levelled against me are totally false. I dare them to conduct an inquiry against me. Till the time my name is cleared, I will continue my fast,” Hazare said.

But the government, this time, is determined not to let the Team Anna have a field day. Amid the deadlock between the two sides on Hazare’s planned fast for a “strong” Lokpal Bill, the attack appears to be a well-thought-out strategy.

To Hazare's contention that his constitutional right was being crushed by not allowing him to protest at a desired venue, the government said the demand was “unconstitutional.”

In a sharpest attack ever against Team Anna, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari called the civil society group “A-Company”. He accused Hazare of being encased with corruption and questioned the source of funding of his agitation.

Basing his allegations on the Justice PB Sawant report, Tewari maintained that Hazare himself was involved in corruption while people linked to him were facing serious charges, including extortion, land grabbing and black mailing. The Team Anna, he said, consists of “armchair fascists, over ground Maoists, closet anarchists ...lurking behind forces of right reaction and funded by invisible donors whose links may go back a long way abroad”.

“We would like to ask Anna Hazare, with what face are you talking about fast against corruption. You are corrupt yourself. We are not saying this. This is what a high court-appointed inquiry has said,” claimed Tewari.

In Round Two, government’s top managers and Union ministers Kapil Sibal and Ambika Soni accused Hazare of misleading the nation. In Kolkata, UPA’s key troubleshooter Pranab Mukherjee accused the Gandhian of undermining the authority of the Parliament.

“So far as the Constitution is concerned, it is the state authority to make laws and not a third authority. Nobody can be compelled that a law has to be drafted as per his or her desire. It is for Parliament to decide,” Mukherjee said.

At a Group of Ministers conference, Sibal maintained that there was nothing more undemocratic than what Anna was doing and disagreed that the government was in any way perturbed with the developments.

“The right to protest does not mean right to protest at a place of your choice,” he said.

Soni, too, lashed out at Hazare for attacking the Prime Minister and said: “In the 64 years since Independence, no one has spoken like this against any Prime Minister, not even the Opposition”.

“Was Anna’s letter to the Prime Minister reflective of a Gandhian mindset,” she wondered. The acrimony between the two sides has grown ever since the Team Anna approached the Delhi Police for permission to stage the fast.

The 74-year-old Gandhian wanted to begin an indefinite hunger strike at the Capital's protest hotspot Jantar Mantar but was denied permission for this venue. The Delhi Police said he could hold his fast at Jai Prakash Narain Park but only 5,000 people would be allowed to gather and the venue would have to be vacated by August 18.

Upset with the conditions, Hazare wrote a letter to the PM asking “can’t our Prime Minister get us a location to protest peacefully”. “You are 79-year-old and are holding the nation's top position. You have got everything from life. What else do you want from life? Show courage and take some concrete steps,” Hazare told the Prime Minister in his letter.

Manmohan Singh asked the social activist to take his grievances to “statutory authorities”. “My office does not in any way get involved in the decision-making process,” he said.

Probe conducted

n The Maharashtra Government instituted a Commission of Inquiry under Justice PB Sawant in 2003 to inquire into allegations of corruption and misadministration against several people, including Hazare.

n The probe found that an amount of Rs 2.2 lakh was diverted from Hazare’s trust for his birthday celebrations

n Sawant on Sunday said the trust utilised the amount to fete Anna. “That is proved and Hazare has not denied it. Now you can't use money of the trust for your own purpose. That amounts to corruption,” he said.





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 |