Battle lines are drawn, lokpal war turns ugly
The confrontation between the Congress and civil society activists intensified on Monday, two days before a meeting of the joint panel to draft anti-corruption lokpal bill. HT reports. Graphics: War of wordsdelhi Updated: Jun 14, 2011 02:37 IST
Hazare immediately hit back, accusing the UPA ministers and ruling party leaders of intentionally defaming his movement. The Congress escalated its war on Hazare’s team claiming that they were "instruments of forces attempting to destabilise the country".
In doing so, party spokesman Manish Tewari admitted a change in the party’s attitude towards them, after the party had initially given them the benefit of doubt. "If democracy faces its biggest peril, it is from the tyranny of the unelected and tyranny of the unelectable," Tiwari said in a thinly-disguised reference to Hazare and his team.
Despite the escalation of this war of words, civil society members said they don’t intend to pull out of the joint draft panel.
Reacting sharply to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s statement on Sunday that the Prime Minister and the judiciary would be kept out of the lokpal, Hazare’s team reminded him of a parliamentary panel headed by him in 2001 under the NDA, in which he had recommended that the PM be covered by the lokpal bill.
Hazare’s team also said law minister Veerappa Moily and home minister P Chidambaram had given their consent to the government's draft lokpal bill prepared earlier this year.
Clearly out to attack Hazare's credibility after decimating the threat from Baba Ramdev, the Congress alleged a "violence in language" by those who were claiming to be Gandhians but were actually reading the script of others. The Congress has publicly accused Hazare of being backed by the BJP and RSS.
The renewed attack by the ruling party on Hazare's team came on a day when both the BJP and the Left parties said the issues raised by Hazare required serious consideration. "We would advise civil society activists not give clarifications to all charges made against them by the Congress. This is a trap. People have faith in you. Go ahead with your work," said BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
Hazare also took on the government and the Congress saying the allegations against his movement were a desperate demoralization bid. "They are trying to demoralise and confuse agitators fighting against corruption and this proves the insensitivity of government," he said in Ahmednagar.
The two sides have been at loggerheads over the telecast of the panel's proceedings and the inclusion of the prime minister and higher judiciary in the Lokpal bill.