With social activist Anna Hazare preparing to go on a day-long fast on Sunday on the Lokpal issue, the Congress on Saturday accused Team Anna of mounting “unnecessary pressure” on Parliament.
“This type of attempt is to bring unnecessary pressure on Parliament and democracy,” Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told journalists here.
He dismissed as a “malicious attempt” Mr. Hazare's charge that AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi was behind alleged attempts to water down the Lokpal Bill.
Mr. Dwivedi, in a letter to Team Anna, noted that it would be difficult for the Congress to express its views before examining the final draft of the Bill. “A debate at this stage outside Parliament may be premature,” he said.
His letter was in response to Team Anna's letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi inviting the party to the “maha debate” on various issues related to the Lokpal Bill at Jantar Mantar on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Abhishek Singhvi, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee which went through the Lokpal Bill, also accused Team Anna of “practising an extreme form of intolerance” by condemning those who do not agree with it with “personal attack and vilification.”
He said this was a “negation of democracy” itself because Team Anna had decided that “no one in the nation, be it Parliamentary Committee, Parliament or the Cabinet, could ever disagree with them.”
“This is most unfortunate and regrettable,” he added.
Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said Mr. Hazare was “under the influence of people who have their separate political agenda” and asked Team Anna to wait for the decision of Parliament before attacking party leader Rahul Gandhi on the Lokpal Bill.
“The Central government wants to bring a strong and good Lokpal Bill. Members of all political parties were members of the standing committee and some of them have also expressed doubts about some parts of the draft prepared by it. Now it is for Parliament to either pass it or reject it,” Mr. Singh said, asking Team Anna to await the decision of Parliament.
On Mr. Hazare's threat to campaign against the Congress in the Assembly poll-bound States if the Lokpal Bill was not passed in the winter session, Mr. Singh quipped: “Anna ka swagat hai” (we welcome Anna).