New Delhi: In the backdrop of animated controversies over the “mystery” CD row hitting the civil society members of the Joint Drafting Committee on Lokpal Bill, social activist Anna Hazare on Monday wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
In a two-page letter to Gandhi, Hazare, who is one of the representatives of the civil society in the 10-member team, complained about the “smear campaign” being run against his colleagues and asked her to advise her "colleagues" not to try to derail the process of drafting of law.
Hazare also complained to Sonia Gandhi about a Congress general secretary, apparently Digvijay Singh, saying he has been making irresponsible statements over the past few days. Hazare, who did not name the person, wrote his remarks were far from the truth and that they were meant to derail talks on Lokpal Bill.
He also referred to an unnamed minister, seemingly HRD Minister Kapil Sibal who is part of the ten-member joint committee on the bill, and accused him of making false statements that the civil society representatives have "succumbed" to government's pressure and "diluted" the law.
He went on to say that the party had probably given the top party-bearer the right to make such remarks and asked Sonia in the letter whether she endorses the statements.
“They are trying to mislead the public,” Hazare claimed, adding that baseless news were being leaked to the media.
Meanwhile, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said Anna Hazare’s allegations against him are “patently false” and have no "factual basis". Reacting to the allegations, the minister’s office issued a clarification which said, "No such statement was ever made by Sibal" .
The Congress has also backed party leader Digvijay Singh's right to express views on anti-corruption campaign of civil society activists even as it declined to comment on Anna Hazare's letter to party president Sonia Gandhi complaining about Singh's "factually wrong" statements.
"The letter has been made public. I do not want to be drawn into the contents of the letter. However, in a democracy, everyone is entitled to their viewpoint. Discourse in a democracy cannot be one way," Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said.
The audio CD contains alleged conversations, apparently among Bhushan, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and former SP leader Amar Singh about 'fixing a judge in Uttar Pradesh for a price'.
The CD further suggests that Shanti Bhushan was allegedly ‘negotiating’ with Mulayam that his son Prashant would file a PIL against UP government for a hefty sum.
Prashant Bhushan had claimed yesterday that the voices in the CD were genuine but had been picked up from different places.
“The forensic analysis done by a US expert George Papcun and Hyderabad-based Truth Labs had shown that the CD has multiple gaps and signs of electronic editing at very, very critical places,” Bhushan had said.
Hazare also virtually dismissed the allegations against Shanti Bhushan, the co-chair of the joint committee, and his son Prashant in the CD controversy and backed his presence on the panel.
Urging Congress president Sonia Gandhi to join hands with him to "defeat" the corrupt Hazare said, "the developments over the last few days have been a cause of
concern.” He said there is a campaign to "smear the reputations" of civil society members. "It seems that the corrupt forces in the country have united to derail the process of drafting an effective anti-corruption law through the joint committee. Together we have to defeat their designs," Hazare said.
"Whereas I am of the view that the people working for public must be subjected to public scrutiny, however, when blatantly false accusations are made, fabricated CDs are planted, then one feels that the purpose is not an honest public scrutiny but to tarnish reputations.
With Agency inputs
First Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2011, 00:55