Taking a tough stand against social-activist Anna Hazare ahead of his proposed fast from Tuesday, the government on Sunday described his proposed fast on Lokpal issue as "unjustified and an affront to Parliament.’’
"There is nothing more undemocratic than the stand taken by Anna Hazare,’’ Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here after a meeting of the Group of Ministers on media. He said no fundamental right was absolute. While the individuals had a right to protest, authorities have to keep public order has to be kept in mind while deciding on the place and time, the Minister said as he quoted court judgements on the issue.
Earlier, the Congress party also launched an offensive against Mr Hazare accusing him of spreading anarchy and asking him to clarify the ``serious findings’’ against him by Justice P.B.Sawant Commission of Inquiry that had found him guilty of corrupt practices and maladministration.
The attack comes a day after Anna Hazare wrote a harshly-worded letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention in providing them a place to sit on a dharna and fast from August 16. "Anna only was television and cameras. Fast is for self-purification and not revolution," Mr Sibal said even as he described the move as completely uncalled for. It is not an insult of the Prime Minister but of the national flag, Mr Tewari said.
Suggesting that the language used in the letter "was not Gandhian" from any point of view, Mr Sibal and Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said: ``Is all that he has written in the letter shows any Gandhian mindset? It is not known who has written the letter but it has Anna Hazare's signatures. Nobody has attempted to hit the Prime Minister in such a below the belt manner."
"Even the Opposition never pointed a finger at the Prime Minister's honesty. Everybody said Manmohan Singh was personally honest," Ms Soni said. Mr Tewari especially was critical of Hazare for the tone and tenor of his letter to the Prime Minister and accused him of crossing all limits of "decency and decorum".
Asked whether the government could hold another round of talks with Team Hazare on Lokpal bill, Mr Sibal said the matter was now between Standing Committee and Mr Hazare as the matter has gone from the government to Parliament now.
"The fast from August 16 has nothing to do with either the issue of corruption or the Lokpal bill," Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said, claiming that the "moral core" of Anna Hazare has been exposed by the Justice P B Sawant Commission.
The Commission in 2003 had probed corruption charges levelled against him and four ministers in the then Maharashtra government and found them guilty of charges of malpractices. However, the State government in 2006 appointed a task force, under former Chief Secretary D.M. Sukthankar, to recommend action against those found guilty which recommended no action against Anna Hazare.
"What is his clarification about the serious findings. The nation wants to know," Mr Tewari said, adding, "I think Hazare and his associates will need to answer conclusions of Sawant Commission." Mr Tewari and Mr Sibal, both parried questions on Sukthankar committee’s recommendation.
The party also charged Hazare with systematically attempting to bring instability in the country and insulting Parliament before which the Lokpal bill has been brought. "When someone tries to bring destabilisation, it becomes the duty of any political party to (fight back)", he said.
The Commission had probed the functioning of four trusts of Mr Hazare including Hind Swaraj Trust formed in 1995 with the objective of rural development and moral education.
He claimed that Justice Sawant has faulted Mr Hazare for spending 2.2 lakh from the Trust for his birthday celebrations and amounted to a corrupt practice. On the Yadav Baba Shikshan Prasaran Mandali, the Commission observed that for 20 years the Trust had not given its accounts.
Another Trust, Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan Sansthan was found by the Commission of having some workers who were "abusing the platform through extortion, blackmail, grabbing property of others", he alleged.