Cong, BJP clash over "smear" campaign against civil society

New Delhi: Congress and BJP on Wednesday clashed over the "fake" CD issue and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare's allegation of smear campaign by Sonia Gandhi's party colleagues against civil society members on the joint drafting committee for Lokpal bill.

BJP criticised the statements of some Congress leaders against members of the Lokpal Bill drafting committee and asked Sonia Gandhi to clarify if she had given them instructions to do so.

"Today corruption is Congress-centric. This has been proven without doubt....The recent wave of anger against corruption is primarily Congress-centric," BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

He said "there are indications that leaders of those who are most affected by these charges of corruption - especially those who are members of the drafting committee - are coming out with statements".

"I would not like to say a campaign is being run. But clearly after the manner in which Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh has given statements, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi should tell us whether instructions have been issued to Congressmen to create hurdles for the campaign against corruption," Rudy said.

BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi alleged Congress and former SP leader Amar Singh had joined hands to malign Anna Hazare and the other civil society members of the Joint Drafting committee.

"The central government has given 'Supari' (contract) to professionals to defame the anti-corruption campaign of Anna Hazare. This 'supari' has been given to the same persons who were given the responsibility of saving the government and ensuring its victory through cash-for-vote on Indo-US nuclear agreement," Naqvi said without naming Singh.

"It is very unfortunate that the government and the Congress are saying something on the face but are adopting various low-level, shameful and immoral tactics to defame anti-corruption campaign behind the curtain," he added.

Congress, however, said it was wrong to view political debate as allegations.

"It is wrong to view political debate as allegations .... Everybody has a right to express his views in public in a democratic country with democratic values," party spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

As the war of words over the CD controversy involving eminent lawyer and Lokpal Bill panel co-chair Shanti Bhushan intensified, Hazare had, in a letter to Sonia Gandhi, said one of the strategies of corrupt forces is to "smear the reputation" of civil society members in drafting committee and asked her to advise her "colleagues" not to try to derail the process of drafting of law.

Tewari said "those people who are in the public domain need to understand that discourse is a two-way thing.