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Updated: April 21, 2011 02:18 IST

Sonia to Hazare: I do not support smear campaign

Smita Gupta
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UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi with Union Minister Kapil Sibal,who is a member of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee, in New Delhi. Ms.Gandhi today wrote to social activist Anna Hazare that she was strongly committed to the institution of Lokpal. File Photo: V. Sudershan
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi with Union Minister Kapil Sibal,who is a member of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee, in New Delhi. Ms.Gandhi today wrote to social activist Anna Hazare that she was strongly committed to the institution of Lokpal. File Photo: V. Sudershan

NAC to suspend work on Lokpal Bill

Sonia Gandhi, in her capacity as National Advisory Council Chairperson, has written to social activist Anna Hazare, saying she does “not support or encourage the politics of smear campaigns.”

Separately, an NAC release announced that the council would no longer be working on the Lokpal Bill.

Interestingly, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan, asked to respond to the attack on lawyer Shanti Bhushan by Congress leaders, said on Wednesday: “They have a right to voice their views. The joint committee has been set up. Issues have been raised — it is for the people concerned to respond. My party has no views on it.”

Unofficially, a senior Congress functionary, in an attempt at damage control following the upsurge of public support for Mr. Hazare's campaign against corruption, referred to the Justice P.B. Sawant Commission — which had investigated corruption charges levelled against the social activist and his trusts, and submitted its report to the Maharashtra government in 2005 — and said: “Anna Hazare's is not a divine court that no one is allowed to say a word against him.” Recently, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said the Sawant report had come as a “rude shock” to him.

Ms. Gandhi's letter, dated April 19, comes a day after Mr. Hazare wrote to her, complaining that a Congress general secretary (Mr. Digvijay Singh) and a Union Minister (Kapil Sibal) were tarnishing the reputations of civil society members who were on the joint committee drafting the Lokpal Bill, and asking her to clarify whether she endorsed their statements.

In her letter, Ms. Gandhi, reiterating her commitment to “the fight for probity in public life,” pointed out that the Lokpal Bill was very much part of the NAC's agenda. Its Working Group on Transparency, Accountability and Governance, she said, had on April 4 held consultations with civil society representatives including Mr. Shanti Bhushan, Santosh Hegde and Prashant Bhushan, “who are now on the joint committee,” as well as Swami Agnivesh and Arvind Kejriwal, “who have been closely associated with you.” The NAC had decided to hold further consultations to evolve broad principles for discussion for approval at its next meeting, but the plans were “overtaken by subsequent events.”

Meanwhile, the NAC release says the council has decided to abandon its work on the Lokpal Bill for the moment, as it wishes to avoid duplication, given that the joint committee is working on a draft Bill.

Differences

NAC members differed with civil society representatives on the joint committee on some aspects of the proposed Bill. While the NAC members want the Bill to confine itself to corruption in high places, the civil society representatives want it widened to include smaller cases such as irregularities in issuing BPL cards, etc. The NAC members feel that if the Lokpal Bill attempts to address all cases of corruption, it will collapse under the sheer volume of complaints: they have suggested instead a parallel law, a Delivery of Services Bill, to address these cases.

The NAC members are also opposed to placing in the public domain all information during the course of investigation of cases, as that would harm those who may not be guilty.

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Unqualified utterance of the name 'Gandhi' mean only one person 'Mahathma Gandhi'. For a long long time the aura of Gandhi has been exploited to garner glory by the undeserved. No more can the aam admi be fooled. Now we have a pertinent saying that the origin of the rivers and the rishis should not be probed like the mythical Vishvamithra,s antecedents.There is no credible leader in Congress today. Digvijay Singh and Amar Singh are lost.The credibility of even Chidambaran has taken a severe beating since the last elections.As for Kapil Sibal there is '0' in 2g scam. Congress party is in tatters. Many politicians and bureaucrats are hoping against hope that the Lokpal bill will not fructify. The Lokpal bill even before it is formulated has beaten the day light out of these politicians.Hence they are saying any thing they could think of about some of the impeccable pesonalities not knowing it will not cut much ice with the pulic at large who are ONE 100% behind Anna Hazare .

from:  Nanjundan
Posted on: Apr 21, 2011 at 23:27 IST

It is truly a Congress party culture in the last 6 decades. Party chief will always strike a high moral ground and will project a cut above the rest image, while the second rung leaders and loud mouths will pour their venom in the open. It happened during Nehru's regime , sorry rule, when TTK bore the brunt of all evils. It happened during Indira Gandhi's time, when stalwarts like YB Chavan, Jagjivan Ram bore the brunt of party's evils, while Madam was next only to Mahatma. It happened during Rajiv's time, when RV,Chidambaram shielded their leader, even when he was weighed down by Bofors gun. It is happening during this time also, when our honorable Prime minister is day dreaming while his able colleagues are running away with the kind of money, even Swiss bankers will be reluctant to accept.
The ruling party aided by allies like Mulayam, Amar singh are playing a dirty game in running down peoples' power and drain the energy of civil rights activists. If the political forces think that they can run down and stifle the people's will, they are sadly mistaken. It will be a stronger force this time and they will be swept away under this tsunami.

from:  P.G.Ravikumar
Posted on: Apr 21, 2011 at 14:46 IST

But Sonia supports smear campaign by her own party dogs. What right she has to write such a thing even. People are so angry that at one point we might have huge revolts throughout India and violent ones. Let Congress not test the patience of Indians. They have looted and plundered india for 62 years till we are bleeding from all pores in the body. Now is time for Indians to take to streets and fight it out hand on hand even if our entire police and army defends these wicket politicians. WE dont want any one including BJP or Congres or Left or RIght or Centre. Entire system revamp needed. Let army take over for a few years if needed. we trust Indian army more than these politicians. Even Judges seem corrupt nowadays.

from:  Harit
Posted on: Apr 21, 2011 at 09:17 IST

The civil society activists by their intolerance against criticism appears to claim they could do no wrong and hence protected by sovereign immunity.The Sawant Commission report on the other hand obligates some of the activists to clear their names of implications of wrong doing if any.By wanting to empower Lok Pal to investigate all corruption cases,they are only setting themselves impractical targets and in doing so the activities of lawfully constituted law enforcement bodies made reduntant.The role of the civil society is not to become an alternative Govt and Court of Law.

from:  john
Posted on: Apr 21, 2011 at 06:52 IST

Any achievement of the UPA government is that of the Prime Minister. And any failure is that of the concerned ministers and civil servants. Similarly any success of the Congress party is to the glory of only Sonia Gandhi and sometimes also her son, and failures in election or allegations of wrong doings never taint the mother and son. Are the people of India so naive as to believe that any Congress leader will do or say anything in public without at least the tacit support of their supreme leader?

from:  K.Vijayakumar
Posted on: Apr 21, 2011 at 06:35 IST
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