Don't buckle under Team Hazare pressure: CWC

Ahead of the July 3 all-party meeting and Anna Hazare's fast from August 16, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), led by Sonia Gandhi, decided to back the government's final version of the lokpal bill.

delhi Updated: Jun 25, 2011 00:17 IST

Ahead of the July 3 all-party meeting and Anna Hazare's fast from August 16, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), led by Sonia Gandhi, decided to back the government's final version of the lokpal bill.

At the same time, it asked the government not to buckle under the pressure of "four or five self-appointed" representatives of civil society as "this could open a pandora's box in a democratic polity."

The directive is both a signal that the Centre should not get browbeaten by the threatened fast as well as a veiled criticism of the formation of the joint drafting panel of five ministers and five civil society activists.

"Any demand that hurts the democratic polity can not be accepted," AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said after the meeting.

Indeed, Digvijaya Singh reportedly asked Pranab Mukherjee who had initiated the joint committee idea. The finance minister, known for his short temper, is said to have lost his cool at this.

But the penchant of some leaders like Singh to wade into controversies and the issue of divergent voices on the Lokpal issue figured in the meeting.

Gandhi then instructed that the party speak in "one voice" her diktat getting reflected with only Dwivedi authorized to speak about the CWC meeting.

Gandhi set the tone of the nearly 100 minute discussion by dismissing the Opposition charges on corruption and emphasizing that she and the prime minister had from time to time expressed their views on the issue of corruption and the government has also been taken action against it. She then asked Mukherjee to brief the CWC on the Lokpal issue.

Sixteen out of the 30 CWC members participated in the discussion in which home minister P Chidambaram intervened. Senior ministers like AK Antony, general secretaries like Rahul Gandhi and leaders like Ahmed Patel did not speak. After the free-wheeling discussion in the meeting, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that he welcomed the members' views.

The draft bill of the government, which opposes the inclusion of the prime minister, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs inside Parliament, is contrary to the stand of Team Anna.

First Published: Jun 25, 2011 00:12 IST