NO PERSONAL ATTACK ON ANNA, A RAHUL DIKTAT
From Our Delhi Bureau
NEW DELHI: A Rahul Gandhi's snub in a closed-door meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Congress leaders in the AICC headquarters here on Monday has chastised the party leaders from making any personal attacks on crusader Anna Hazare arrested here on Tuesday.
In his very first meeting with the party leaders in absence of his mother Sonia Gandhi away in New York convalescing after a surgery, Rahul is reported to have objected to the party launching a no-holds-barred attack on Hazare on the ground that he was himself indicted for corruption in an inquiry report by retired Supreme Court judge P B Sawant.
His query was simple: "Has Anna lost right to protest against corruption because of the indictment? Then each one of us will have to first declare to have not indulged in even a small corruption before talking against corruption."
The impact of his blunt talk could be seen in nobody in the party making any uncharitable remarks against Hazare and company unlike two days ago when party spokesman Manish Tewari accused them of trying to bring instability in the country and dubbed them as "armchair fascists, overground Maoists, closet anarchists...lurking behind forces of right reaction and funded by invisible donors whose links may go back a long way abroad."
Another Congress spokesman Abishek Manu Singhvi taking the briefing on Tuesday skirted all questions and refused to comment whether the party still believes that Hazare is corrupt. He was pointedly asked to comment on Tewari's outburst against Hazare on Sunday and whether the party still stands by the Justice Sawant report indicting the crusader.
At the GoM interaction with the media, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal went to the extent of asserting that "we are on Anna's side and Anna is on our side as far as fight against corruption goes." He said the disagreement was over team Anna's insistence to accept its Bill and no other Bill. Home Minister P Chidambaram and I&B Minister Ambika Soni said the government rather shared Hazare's concern on corruption.
The three ministers came for the media interaction after a strategic session with Rahul Gandhi that was also attended by Pranab Mukherjee and the impact could be seen from the way they just stopped short of glorifying Hazare in all respects.
Ambika Soni said Hazare was a "reputed person" and the government trusted his word on protest being peaceful. However, no one can guarantee that there can not be any problem when such a large number of people gather at a place as people on the dais do not have control on each and every person participating in an agitation, she said.
She felt that the crusader may have been ill-advised by his colleagues like former IPS officer Kiran Bedi and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan "who understand the law." Kiran Bedi has been part of Delhi Police for long and hence knows how it handles public agitations, she said.