‘All religions, castes are standing with us and against corruption'

Key member of Team Anna, Arvind Kejriwal, has sought to dispel any impression that social activist Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement is soft on the issue of communalism.

“Corruption does not discriminate between Hindus and Muslims. It affects all communities, and a corrupt officer is neither Hindu nor Muslim. The UPA can try to project Annaji's agitation as anti-Dalit or anti-Muslim, but the fact remains that all religions and castes are standing with us and against corruption,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

The statements were made on Sunday, after Mr. Kejriwal had a long discussion with representatives of many Muslim NGOs such as the Mumbai Aman Committee, the Impact India Foundation, the All India Ulema Council and Federation of Muslim NGOs (AIUC).

“Communalism is a bigger danger than corruption. We have said repeatedly that we are totally against communalism,” he said.

Explaining the last-minute change in the venue of the meeting, AIUC chief Maulana Mehboob Daryabadi said: “We were scheduled to meet at the Islam Gymkhana Club but they were being pressurised by some members of the Congress party, so we decided to change the venue and avoid unpleasantness. We had long and frank discussions with Mr. Kejriwal and we are with him and Annaji in the fight against corruption.”

Mr. Kejriwal sought to allay fears that a larger gathering at the fast venue could lead to trouble or violence. “In Delhi, lakhs of people got together on the Ramlila grounds, yet there was no trouble. This is because we asked everyone to be vigilant.”

Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Kishore Joshi said in a statement that Mr. Hazare's agitation was directed only at the party, which had been instrumental in introducing the Lokpal Bill, while the Shiv Sena had opposed it and challenged Team Anna to launch an agitation against its chief Bal Thackeray.

PIL seeks CBI probe into Team Anna's funding

J. Venkatesan reports

from New Delhi:

A public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Supreme Court for a CBI probe into the sources of funding for the protests launched by Team Anna. It will be heard on January 16.

In his petition, advocate Manoharlal Sharma said the probe should be conducted against Anna Hazare, Manish Sisodia, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi. Besides the Centre and the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Ford Foundation has been cited as a respondent.

Mr. Sharma said that according to the statement released by Team Anna, the expenditure for its recent agitation on the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi was Rs. 1.5 crore for organising Mr. Hazare's sit-in camp; Rs. 52 lakh for public meetings; Rs. 26 lakh for printing pamphlets; Rs. 9.8 lakh towards travel and conveyance, and Rs. 45 lakh for sending over 30 crore SMSes.

Since 2005, the Ford Foundation had allegedly been funding/promoting Team Anna in various agitations through the media under the banner, ‘Fight against corruption,' the petition said.

On November 1, when Congress leader Digvijay Singh questioned the source of funds, Team Anna declared that it had received Rs. 42 lakh from unknown sources, via bank transfer, in August 2011 and said it was planning to return the money. However, Mr. Sharma said, Team Anna did not reveal the funding allegedly received from the Ford Foundation.

The PIL sought a direction to the Centre and the CBI to conduct an impartial judicial inquiry under the court's supervision to find out the source of Team Anna's funding, to fix responsibilities in accordance with law and to prohibit foreign-sponsored agitations.

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