A picture of anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare with RSS leader Nanaji Deshmukh published in a Hindi daily on Sunday prompted the Congress to launch a scathing attack on Hazare and dub him an “RSS agent”.
The war of words on social networking site Twitter broke out even as Hazare and his team wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, hoping for the “best possible law” from Parliament, but insisting that the lokpal be given suo motu powers to initiate probes and bring the anti-corruption wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation under it.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, in a tweet, called Hazare an “army deserter” and an agent of the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, implying that he was working at its behest to destabilise the government.
“Anna Hazare worked as secretary with RSS leader Nanaji Deshmukh and trained in 1983 in Gonda,” Singh tweeted, citing Hazare's denial of not being linked to the RSS. Almost on cue, union minister Beni Prasad Verma and Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi too slammed Hazare.
Responding promptly, Hazare's associate Kiran Bedi tweeted out a picture of Singh sharing a stage with Deshmukh. “Does sharing of the dais make one each other's agent. Next time shud (sic) one sit alone? When two persons share a dais do they become each others agents?” she asked. Key aide Arvind Kejriwal countered Singh by saying that Hazare was “an agent” of the country.Hazare will be going on a three-day fast in Mumbai from December 27.
The fast coincides with the final three days of Parliament’s ongoing winter session, set aside especially to put the lokpal bill to vote.
The Congress will have to contend with the disagreement from the main Opposition BJP, many of whose demands overlap with Hazare’s, apart from the demand to make the lokpal legislation a model law optional for states.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has already signalled to her partymen to fight an all-out political war while urging civil society and the Opposition to accept the government's version of the bill.
Unlike Hazare's fast in August, which came to a crisis point due to his failing health, the upcoming strike will last three days, by which time-frame the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill would have been put to vote.