In signals that the battle over the draft Lokpal Bill is far from over, Congress today virtually rejected Gandhian Anna Hazare's demand for videographing the proceedings of the Joint Committee on the ambitious measure.
"Let us not form take the place of substance....Please do not put conditions and pre-conditions which might obstruct basic objective...Statesmanship and maturity is required from every stakeholder," party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters in reply to a volley of questions on the issue.
He said such conditions and preconditions could not ever be allowed which would inhibit candid discussions.
"Transparency should not become artificial or hypocritical decision making without candour. Therefore balancing is important", he insisted.
Singhvi downplayed Hazare's demand for the resignation of Law Minister Kapil Sibal for reportedly belittling significance of the Lokpal bill for the common man.
He added one should not not get into charges and counter-charges when a positive process has been set in motion. "We should not queer the pitch", he said adding the Government had bent over backwards over the procedure.
"Our constitutional and opposition in prinicple to the procedure remains. We have accepted their demands to resolve the issue but that does not mean we will accept it in every matter, " he said. A senior Congress leader, who declined to be identified, expressed apprehensions that the focus would go away from the Lokpal bill if the representatives of the civil society come up with such conditions and preconditions.
The leader also said that a consensus would be difficult if these representatives remained adamant on retaining certain provisions in the Jan Lokpal bill.
Their is a realisation that these representatives could walkout if their core demands are not accepted. "What we have seen so far is a skirmish over procedure, the real battle has started now", he said noting that the Congress and the government walked the extra mile as Hazare's campaign "legitimate outpouring on the issue of corruption and not a political campaign."
Hazare is part of the 10-member panel headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to draft a stronger Lok Pal Bill. On Hazare's praise of controversial Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Singhvi said anybody who understands or is dedicated to the principles of secularism, cannot in any manner support, condone or justify the black events in Gujarat.
Anna Hazare has also clarified in detail". "I do not want to get into unnecessary controversy," he remarked to repeated questions on whether Congress is convinced of Hazare's secularism and integrity.