New Delhi: Anna Hazare and his team’s scathing attack on Congress scion Rahul Gandhi over the Lokpal issue has infuriated leaders of the ruling party, some of whom on Monday dubbed the social activist as an RSS spokesperson.
The multi-faceted retaliation came a day after Hazare sat on a day-long fast at Jantar Mantar here and his team simultaneously organised a debate on Lokpal Bill.
Senior party leader Digvijay Singh reacted by saying the remarks against Rahul Gandhi were politically motivated and aimed at creating an environment against the Congress.
"The intent of all Anna team, Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravishankar is political. Corruption is not the issue, their issue is how to create an environment against the Congress party," he said, while asserting there was no question of going back on the issue of strong Lokpal.
Hinting that Team Anna is acting at the behest of BJP, Singh said, "BJP`s game plan has been to divert the attention from Sangh members involved in terror activities."
Congress MP PV Hanumanth Rao warned that partymen won`t tolerate such accusations with political motives.
"Rahul Gandhi is not even in the government and he is only the party general secretary. Hazare is attacking him for weakening the Lokpal Bill to help vested interests tarnish his image. Congressmen will not tolerate this," Rao told reporters.
Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma said, "The opposition is scared of Rahul Gandhi and Anna has become their spokesperson especially that of the RSS. Is he a laat sahib, let him come to UP (elections), we will see him there."
"Anna is trying to scare Congress but we are not afraid of him. If he is 75, then Congress is 125 years old," Verma said.
Another Congress leader Satyavrat Charurvedi sought to question the Gandhian’s credentials, asking if he is Raja Harishchandra?
"His (Anna`s) word is not the one of Lord Brahma. Is he Satyawadi Harishchandra, I do not agree with this," Chaturvedi said.
Party spokesperson Rashid Alvi accused Hazare and Opposition leaders of indulging in politics.
“Whoever was at Jantar Mantar yesterday was doing politics against the Congress,” Alvi said. He added that it was Rahul Gandhi who wanted a strong Lokpal and worked for giving
constitutional status to the proposed body.
Law Minister Salman Khurshid meanwhile reiterated the UPA government’s commitment to Lokpal, saying it wants a discussion on the legislation and hopes the same will happen soon in Parliament.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni had a word of advice for Team Anna. She said in democracy Parliament is the best forum to discuss. The government feels raising the Lokpal issue outside Parliament is nothing else but doublespeak and double face.
Several Opposition leaders including BJP’s Arun Jaitley, JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav and Left’s AB Bardhan, Brinda Karat and D Raja had taken part in the Lokpal debate organised by Team Anna at Jantar Mantar yesterday. Almost every speaker expressed desire for a strong Lokpal but both the BJP and Left advised Hazare and his team to be flexible on the issue and not undermine Parliament’s supremacy.
Asked why the Congress did not send its representative to Hazare`s fast venue yesterday, Alvi said, "We did not go there as we could not be present at a dias where Sonia and Rahul Gandhi would have been criticised. Jantar Mantar can be stage for politics but not for law-making."
Hazare sat on a day-long fast yesterday to protest the draft report prepared and submitted in Parliament by the Abhishek Manu Singhvi-led Standing Committee that went into Lokpal Bill. Team Anna has rejected the report, dubbing it as weak.
(With PTI inputs)