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Congress launches attack on Anna, defends Rahul

Cornered on the Lokpal Bill issue, Cong today slammed Anna Hazare for insulting Parliament with his campaign at Jantar Mantar and of indulging in politics by attacking Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi. Govt all alone as opposition sides with Anna on Lokpal | Anna's fasts tenth top story on Time

delhi Updated: Dec 12, 2011 18:33 IST

Anna Hazare came in for scathing attack from Congress leaders who dubbed him a RSS spokesperson for his charge against Rahul Gandhi over the Lokpal issue.

One of the leaders warned that partymen won't tolerate such accusations with political motives.

"Rahul Gandhi is not even in the government and he is only the party general secretary. Hazare is attacking him for weakening the Lokpal Bill to help vested interests tarnish his image. Congressmen will not tolerate this," Congress Member of Parliament PV Hanumanth Rao told reporters in New Delhi.

Steel minister Beni Prasad Verma said, "the opposition is scared of Rahul Gandhi and Anna has become their spokesperson especially that of the RSS. Is he a laat sahab, let him come to UP (elections), we will see him there." He was reacting to Anna Hazare's comments on the Congress general secretary.

"Anna is trying to scare Congress but we are not afraid of him. If he is 75, then Congress is 125 years old," Verma said.

Asked for his reaction on the issue, Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said, "His (Anna's) word is not the one of Lord Brahma. Is he Satyawadi Harishchandra?, I do not agree with this."

The Congress leader was asked about his views on Anna's statement on Rahul Gandhi.

Launching attack on Anna Hazare and his team for criticising Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Digvijaya Singh also said that Anna Hazare was following the game plan of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar.

"The BJP is supporting Anna Hazare to divert public attention from the fact that Sangh Parivar supporters have been arrested for terrorist activities," Digvijaya said while talking to reporters in New Delhi.

Digvijaya also said that Anna was targeting Rahul Gandhi, who was the first to call for the Lokpal to be given constitutional status. Team Anna's campaign is not apolitical--it has always been political.

"The intent of Team Anna, Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravishankar is political, their motive is to create problems for the Congress," Digvijaya further said.

Accusing the opposition of "double standards", Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni on Monday asked why it was raising the Lokpal issue outside while Parliament is in session.

"In democracy there is a platform for discussion on every issue. Parliament is the best forum for discussion."

"Raising issues outside Parliament shows opposition's double standards. This is not acceptable," she said adding "when we speak outside Parliament they say it is against parliamentary tradition."

Soni said, "we also want strong Lokpal but it should be discussed in Parliament."

At the same time, law minister Salman Khurshid said, "Parliamentary democracy is based on discussion and there should be discussion on every issue."

Asked whether opposition did the right thing in discussing Lokpal issue outside Parliament, Khurshid said "this should also be discussed in Parliament."

UPA allies have also backed Congress whiile the opposition parties have altogether criticised the government for trying to introduce a weaker Lokpal Bill.

Union minister Farooq Abdullah said, "Parliament is supreme. So, they (Opposition) should put forth their views in Parliament which is the right forum".

However, NCP chief Sharad Pawar today said there was nothing wrong with politicians sharing the dais with Anna Hazare and discussing the Lokpal issue and said it is "good" that all parties emphasised the supremacy of Parliament which cannot be overlooked.

"A debate can take place at any place. It could be done at a seminar or in an open ground. It is good that all political parties at Jantar Mantar emphasised the importance of Parliament. We cannot overlook Parliament," Pawar said.

On Sunday, Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi said that whatever happened at Jantar Mantar was premature and they should have waited for the final shape of Lokpal Bill which would be passed by Parliament.

"Laws cannot be made at Jantar Mantar. I have no hesitation in saying that Annaji is insulting Parliament," Alvi said, adding that the activist has had his say and should now allow Parliament to carry out its mandate.

He accused Hazare of indulging in politics by attacking Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

"It is the Constitutional right of Annaji to sit on protest, but the manner in which he is trying to target Rahulji and Soniaji makes it clear that he only wants to indulge in politics," he said.

His remarks came soon after several political parties, including BJP, Left parties, BJD shared dias with Hazare and backed Team Anna's key proposals for a strong Lokpal.

"It was an assembly of anti-Congress organisations. Nothing has happened beyond our expectations," Alvi said.

He contended that there were inherent contradictions in Hazare's utterance when he exhorts every institution to work independently and at the same time expects the government or the Congress to influence the Standing Committee to accept the activist's version of Lokpal.

"On one side Hazare says all institutions should work independently -- CVC, CBI, Lokpal -- on the other he expects the government or Congress to put pressure on standing committee to adopt Annaji's Lokpal," Alvi said.

He said Hazare should not have lowered the dignity of the Parliamentary Standing Committee by criticising it.

"Parliament will debate and decide on the Lokpal Bill. Nobody is bigger than Parliament or Constitution. The country runs as per the Constitution and not by raising slogans," he said.

Alvi said the Congress will continue to fight corruption at all levels.

"Corruption cannot be fought by laws alone, there has to be a change in the social mindset and we all have to do it together," he said.

Earlier, Congress had accused Team Anna of mounting "unnecessary pressure" on Parliament.

"This type of attempt is to bring unnecessary pressure on Parliament and democracy," Congress General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi had said on Sunday.

(With inputs from PTI, IANS)

First Published: Dec 12, 2011 13:23 IST