Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare on Wednesday shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, slamming the reaction of his government and the Congress to his indefinite fast on the Lokpal Bill issue, and urged him to show courage to take unprecedented steps to fight the menace.
Responding to Congress' criticism that his protest was "premature", 72 year old Hazare said authorities resort to "malicious slandering" whenever cornered and asserted that he was not the kind of person who could be "instigated" into going on an indefinite fast.
He alleged that "their spokespersons are misleading the nation".
Hazare, who launched his fast unto death on Tuesday in New Delhi, told reporters that he was willing to join a committee on the bill issue, only if Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was a member of it, maintaining that any other such body would lack powers.
Referring to criticism of his protest, Hazare said in the letter, "Dear Manmohan Singhji, this is an insult to my sense of wisdom and intelligence.... I take advice from many friends and critics but do what my conscience directs me to do." "It is my experience that when cornered, governments resort to such malicious slandering. I am pained that the government, rather than addressing the issue of corruption, is trying to allege conspiracies when there are none," he said.
In the letter, Hazare said the activists were not asking for accepting the Bill drafted by them, but were pushing for creation of a "credible platform" -- a joint committee with at least half members from civil society.
"Your spokespersons are misleading the nation when they say that there is no precedent for setting up a joint committee. At least seven laws in Maharashtra were drafted by similar joint committees and presented in state Assembly." "Even at the Centre, when 25,000 tribals came to Delhi two years ago, your government set up a joint committee on land issues within 48 hours. You (Singh) yourself are the Chairperson of that Committee. This means the government is willing to set up joint committees on all other issues but not corruption. Why?" he said in the letter.
Addressing the press at the protest site at Jantar Mantar in the capital, Hazare said there is talk of a joint committee, but they are constituting such a committee without any powers.
"Is (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi in there? We will not go to any committee which does not have any powers. Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan requested me to attend the committee. If Sonia is ready to attend the meeting, we are ready. If she is not ready, why should we go," he said.
Hazare, however, said Singh is a "good man" who is not tainted by corruption. "Remote control se gadbadi hote hei. (The problems are created when a remote control operates )," he said.