As the standoff between government and Anna Hazare continued on Lokpal Bill, Congress on Friday blamed the "obstinate and intransigent" attitude of the social activist's supporters for the impasse despite the administration going the "extra mile" to address their concerns.
"The ball is in their court....We have agreed with every substantial demand...Absolutely no substantial or real issues remains to be resolved...Are not some of the members of the civil society being obstinate and intransigent?," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.
Singhvi, a senior advocate, made a spirited defence of the government, telling the supporters of Hazare that "we cannot lose sense of balance. We are a government by constitution. Jingoistic and populist slogans cannot take place of substance."
Putting the onus on Hazare's associates for his health condition, Singhvi suggested that the impasse arose due to demands by the supporters of Hazare that the Chairman of the Joint Committee for drafting the Lokpal bill should be from civil society and that government should notify the committee.
"Is it possible for an extremely senior minister to sit on a committee under someone else's chairmanship or headed by any member from civil society. Will the society members pilot the bill in Parliament?
"We must realize that we are part of a constitutional governance, where the responsibility for any legislations lays squarely on the government and the Council of Ministers," Singhvi said, accusing Hazare's supporters of delaying the process of setting up the committee on "procedural matters". Singhvi however did not name anyone.
The AICC's sharp criticism of Hazare's supporters came close on the heels of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi holding consultations after the Gandhian threatened a Jail Bharo from April 13.
Replying to questions, Singhvi said that the government has literally walked the "extra mile" to resolve the issue and the government's acceptance of the demand for the joint committee should not be construed as a precedent or principle.
"We have utmost deference and respect for Hazare. We have tried to engage with him at every stage...despite no precedent we still agreed to a joint drafting committee. We also agreeed to have their five members and five members from the government in the committee.
We also agreed to introduce the bill in the Monsoon session. We also agreed that the joint committee will be activated before May 13. We are with the civil society in the crusade against corruption. What else remains. All points of substance met," Singhvi said.