Asks whether she personally approves of Digvijay's statement

Even as the war over a controversial CD purportedly featuring the co-chairman of the joint committee on the Lokpal Bill intensified, social activist Anna Hazare on Monday wrote to United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi urging her to rein in some of her colleagues who, he said, were trying to derail the process of drafting the legislation.

He pointed an accusing finger at Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who has raised questions on the money spent on Mr. Hazare's fast-unto-death, and Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, who is a member of the joint panel and is alleged to have “informally debriefed” mediapersons after the first meeting that civil society members had come under government pressure on the revised Jan Lokpal Bill. Mr. Hazare sought to ask Ms. Gandhi if she personally approved of the statements of one of the general secretaries [Mr. Digvijay Singh] of the Congress party. “Most of his statements are wrong which makes one believe that his only intention is to create confusion, mislead people and derail the ongoing discussions in the joint committee.”

Quick to clarify his position, Mr. Sibal said the statement attributed to him that “the civil society members have succumbed to government pressure” was “patently false.” He said that he was followed by some journalists to his house for a copy of the revised Lokpal Bill, which he did not give. There was no debriefing and he refused to divulge details of the meeting.

Expressing concern at the developments of the last few days, Mr. Hazare said in his letter that “it seems that corrupt forces in the country have united to derail the process of drafting an effective anti-corruption law through the joint committee.” Referring to the CD, Mr. Hazare said that while people working for the public must be subject to public scrutiny, when blatantly false accusations were made, fabricated CDs were planted, one felt that the purpose was not public scrutiny but tarnishing reputations. “However, such attempts are backfiring and we have received several messages from across the country that vested interests were involved and we should not give up.”

Urging Ms. Gandhi to “together defeat designs to derail the process for a strong and effective anti-corruption law,” Mr. Hazare said: “I would urge you to advise your colleagues not to derail the process. The country is in no mood to wait any longer for a strong anti-corruption law. People are very agitated. I fear the consequences if the process is derailed.”

In a separate statement, he said the deadline for the formulation of the draft Bill shall remain June 30. The Bill, as has been stated earlier, shall be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament and is expected to be passed by August 15.

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