With the acrimony between the UPA government and Anna Hazare growing over his second fast that begins on Tuesday, the Congress for the first time on Sunday launched a direct attack against the social activist, calling him corrupt and non-transparent and referring his team as “A Company”.
The decision to go all out against Hazare was taken soon after his — what many Congress functionaries described— “strongly-worded and insulting” letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday.The party managers came to the conclusion that all attempts by the government to persuade Hazare to give up his fast have failed and that the "Team Anna was not interested in resolving the issues through a dialogue but resorted to arm-twisting and blackmailing tactics".
The party’s decision to “expose the corrupt face of Hazare” at a press briefing on Sunday was significant because the Congress usually does not hold its news conferences on that day.
“The fast from August 16 has nothing to do with either the issue of corruption or the lokpal bill,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said, claiming that the “moral core” of Hazare has been “ripped apart” by the Justice PB Sawant Commission which had “found him steeped in corruption from head to toe”.
He then went into specifics of the panel’s report, which had probed four organisations linked to Hazare for corruption.
The commission submitted its report on February 22, 2005 in which it criticised the Hind Swaraj Trust, formed in 1995 for rural development, for spending R2.20 lakh of its funds on Hazare’s birthday celebrations.
It also indicted the Sant Yadavbaba Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, a trust with which Hazare is associated since its inception in 1980, for committing “illegalities” in its audits and not giving its accounts for the past 20 years.
The commission found another trust linked to him, Bhrastachar Virodhi Jan Andolan Sansthan, of having workers who were “abusing the platform through extortion, blackmail, grabbing property of others”.
“What is his clarification about the serious findings...The nation wants to know. I think Hazare and his associates will need to answer these charges,” Tewari said.
Besides, he claimed that Hazare who swears by transparency has not replied to an RTI query as to his contribution when he was in the Army.
In a stern warning to Hazare, he said, “When someone tries to bring destabilisation, it becomes the duty of any political party to (fight back). “ Tewari was especially critical of Hazare for the tone of his letter to the Prime Minister and accused him of crossing all limits of “decency and decorum”. “It is not an insult of the Prime Minister but of the national flag.”