The government could not be blackmailed at every stage, the Congress said on Friday after Anna Hazare threatened to campaign against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the five election-bound states if a strong Lokpal bill was not passed by parliament in its winter session.
Stating that the government could not be "threatened and blackmailed", Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said: “I don't think we are in the business of constantly giving assurances to the public and to him. They must learn to respect that there is a system we already committed..."
"Beyond that we really cannot go giving in to such pressures. It is neither dignified nor nice,” Chowdhury told a news channel.
She said the government was committed to a strong Lokpal Bill and had already given its assurance to Team Anna.
The government, she added, could not keep repeating its assurance every week or every time a person goes on "a maun vrat (vow of silence)” or breaks it.
“Whether we bring a stronger one and a tougher or not than is being asked for will be seen in the winter session. Till then I think Anna Hazare and his team learn to keep their patience and counsel...They are the ones giving certificate to people in Hisar,” Chowdhury said.
As Anna Hazare reiterated his demand for a strong Lokpal bill, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spoke up to condemn Chowdhury's statement. BJP leader Balbir Punj said any section of society has the right to raise its demand and it cannot be termed as blackmail.
“The Congress and the UPA cannot decide how to deal with Anna and his agitation. They are changing their stance from time to time. They have been totally dishonest in dealing either with Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare,” Punj said.
He said the government had at one stage deputed its senior ministers to talk with Team Anna and Baba Ramdev and later there were accusations against them.
“You have a typical cat and mouse game on. The government, obviously, is not sincere at all,” he said.
Hazare, who broke his 19-day vow of silence on Friday, threatened to campaign against the UPA government in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Punjab if a strong Lokpal bill was not passed in the winter session.