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Congress MPs also not at ease

delhi Updated: Aug 25, 2011 23:53 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times
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The Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting on Thursday saw signs of discord over the government's handling of the Anna Hazare issue.

The CPP meeting, described by senior Congress functionaries as a briefing and held in the absence of party president Sonia Gandhi, also saw some MPs voicing concern over "poor media management" and "bad press" the government was getting on the issue.

The meeting started with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee briefing the MPs about steps taken by the government to resolve the issue and persuade Hazare to end his fast.

Without referring to Team Anna, he said attempts are being made to take over the legislature's functions, but the government was unbending on upholding the supremacy of the Constitution and Parliament.

An impression is being given that the government was opposed to the Lokpal Bill or taking measures to check corruption, Mukherjee said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did not attend the meeting, although Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was present.

After Mukherjee's briefing, some MPs took to the stage. Jyoti Mridha, Lok Sabha MP from Nagaur in Rajasthan, said there was a perception among a large number of people that the government had handled the issue in an "arrogant" manner.

Prabha Thakur, Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan, said both the party and the government have not been able to manage the media well, while Team Anna has done it successfully.

Unnao MP Annu Tandon questioned the role of the BJP and the RSS in Hazare's anti-corruption agitation, and also raised the issue of activists picketing MPs' houses.

The BJP is trying to gain political advantage from this agitation, she said.

'Bad remarks'
Delhi (North East) MP JP Agarwal objected to some "derogatory remarks" made by Team Anna against the MPs, while Mumbai (North-Central) MP Priya Dutt iterated her demand for a strong and effective bill.

Girija Vyas, Lok Sabha MP from Chittorgarh in Rajasthan, and some members from southern India, said the government has not been able to project its view "rightly and effectively and that only one side of the story was coming out" in the media.

This is for the first time that the MPs voiced their concern on any issue in a CPP meeting.

Later, Mukherjee told the MPs that they would be given one more chance to speak at another meeting, likely to be called soon.