Stepping up its attack on Anna Hazare ahead of his August 16 fast, the government on Sunday said the social activist's right to protest was not absolute and his attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not "Gandhian".
"The right to protest is not an absolute right, it also imposes certain obligations on the citizen. His attack on the PM is not Gandhian. A fast is meant for personal purification and not publicity," said union human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal on Sunday.
The government, which went into an overdrive to counter the allegations levelled against it by the social activist, denied that it was dictatorial in its response to Hazare's protest against Delhi Police restrictions on his fast.
Hazare has threatened to go on an indefinite fast from August 16 against the version of the lokpal bill which has been introduced in parliament.
On Saturday, Hazare appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in an open letter to personally intervene and allow the protest at Jantar Mantar.
"You are taking away our democratic right to protest, for which our freedom fighters sacrificed their lives, just two days before the Independence Day. I wonder what moral authority you would have when you will unfurl the national flag on the 65th Independence Day," Hazare said in his letter.
The prime minister refused to be dragged into the issue. "It is for the Delhi Police Commissioner to decide on giving permission to Anna Hazare for the venue of his protest after assessing the security implications," said Sibal.
Sibal also termed Hazare's protest as undemocratic and an affront to parliament, as the lokpal bill was parliament property now. "This protest is undemocratic and unjustified. The parliament will decide on the shape of the lokpal bill," said Sibal.
Union information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni asked, "Why are Anna and his associates not taking up issues like electoral reforms and evaluation of social welfare schemes of the government?"
"They are levelling wild allegations that members of parliament are corrupt and that government money being spent on welfare schemes is going down the drain. They should raise issues like recall of MPs and social audit in welfare schemes. They could have conducted social audit themselves," said Soni.