The “clumsy” handling of the Lokpal movement by the government as well as the Congress allowed the BJP to gain political mileage, Prashant Bhushan, an aide of social activist Anna Hazare, said on Monday.
“There is a public perception that while the government and the Congress are opposing our movement, the BJP is at least not opposed to us,” Bhushan, who led Team Anna while negotiating the Lokpal Bill with the government, told HT.
“The BJP is certainly deriving some political mileage due to clumsy handling by the government and the Congress. We are not responsible for it,” the senior lawyer said when asked if the prevailing situation had helped the saffron party.
The views are contradictory to those of another Team Anna member Kiran Bedi. The former IPS officer hailed the BJP for supporting them when the negotiations with the government were delicately poised.
Asked if their support or opposition to Hazare's movement would have a bearing on the electoral fortunes of political parties, Bhushan said, “We are not into politics and it does not worry us. Somebody might gain, but this is unavoidable in electoral politics.”
On Hazare accepting union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh as a mediator in his fight for a strong anti-corruption watchdog even though the Supreme Court had passed strictures against him, Bhushan said they had no say in the matter.
“We had no control on which minister was sent by the Prime Minister to talk to Anna. Though we would have preferred ministers with a clean image but Anna's health was the prime concern.”
Bhushan denied that Team Anna had asked for senior ministers P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal to be kept away. “We did not put any pre-condition of excluding any minister.”
Was Hazare's 12-day fast really successful as the government did not introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill nor did it accept any of his deadlines?
“The main achievement in this phase was getting a moral commitment from the major political parties on the three key issues of Anna. Given the intense public scrutiny on the bill, no party will be able to go back on its promise,” said Bhushan.