Digvijaya Singh, in the thick of a controversy over remarks on the Bhushans and justice Santosh Hegde, on Friday said the Congress and the government were in no way connected with the alleged smear campaign against civil society representatives and would not hamper the work of the joint committee to draft the Lokpal Bill.
Unfazed by criticism that he was targetting Anna Hazare and his colleagues, Singh said he was only voicing the party line as a disciplined soldier and there is no party gag on him.
The Congress general secretary, who has raised questions over Shanti Bhushan and his son getting prized land in Noida and alleged evasion of stamp duty in Allahabad, said he had no objection to their continuance in the committee but left it to their conscience whether they should remain in it.
He also made it clear that he had at no time attacked justice Hegde, a member of the joint committee, but had only raised a question that if the best Lokayukta in Karnataka cannot stop "rampant corruption" in the state then a serious thought should be given to the system.
"As far as Congress and government of India is concerned, we are absolutely clear that we would not hamper the proceedings of the drafting committee and the want to complete the task so that the bill is presented in the monsoon session of Parliament," Singh said.
He dismissed suggestions that the party and some of its leaders were behind the attacks on the civil society members because the government had to 'buckle' to the fast by Hazare.
"If the government has buckled, it has buckled. There were two options -- either engage in negotiations or force-feed Anna Hazare. We opted for the first option because we are sensitive to people's sentiments in a democracy," he said.
Singh said it was not the Congress party or its leaders who raked up issues.
"The first salvo was fired by Baba Ramdev and not by Congress...There is no problem with the father and son remaining in the committee. It is their decision if they want to continue. The question is to their conscience."
Singh said it was the Uttar Pradesh government, which had given notice to the Bhushans for alleged under-valuation of the property and payment of low stamp duty in Allahabad. Again it was the media, which brought out the land allotment to Bhushan and his son.
"I am amused they are worried about the timing of the revelations and not the illegality of the allotment... UP government issues a notice to Bhushans in February 2011 and you see the hand of Congress party behind it," he said referring to the reactions from Bhushans and civil society members.