Key UPA allies including, Trinamool Congress and NCP, shunned the Congress while the coalition government received flak both inside and outside Parliament on Monday over the Anna Hazare issue.
Top UPA sources told HT, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee specifically asked her party MPs to maintain silence on the controversy. Sharad Pawar, the NCP boss, privately conveyed his disappointment over Anna’s arrest to the Congress.
The sole support for the Congress came from its southern ally, the DMK. Karunanidhi's party was critical of the movement today but maintained its earlier stand of including the PM in the lokpal bill.
When the debate over Anna's arrest started in the Lok Sabha, several Trinamool MPs were present. Soon, Banerjee called from Kolkata and asked her MPs to avoid participation in the debate.
A wary Trinamool didn't want to go against Hazare, who is enjoying popular support in his fight against corruption. The ally also refrained from any criticism of the government from within. “Our leader herself sat on a fast against the Nano project. How can we oppose Anna's fast, that too against corruption?" said a senior Trinamool leader.
Top Congress sources also said that during the past few days there had been no communication between Banerjee and UPA's main interlocutor, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
During the day, Pawar met a few top Congress leaders and reportedly vent his anger over Anna's arrest.
“Pawar strongly believes that the arrest could have been avoided. He considers Anna Hazare as no force even in Maharashtra and thinks we got our calculations wrong,” said a senior Congress leader.
NCP spokesperson D P Tripathi said, “Participation in the debate was not necessary. We have already cleared our position on issues of lokpal and Hazare's agitation.”
‘Anna campaign fund’
On Tuesday, HRD minister Kapil Sibal had stirred things up by questioning the source of the money used to run an “orchestrated” campaign against the government.
“Crores of rupees have been spent on cellphone messages, t-shirts have been distributed and regional channels are running 15-minute clips of Hazare. You should know that someone else is funding the entire campaign,” alleged Sibal.
Adding a political motive behind Hazare’s campaign, Sibal said some political parties, who wanted to destabilise the government, were supporting him.