‘Communal forces can’t hijack anti-graft campaign'

Kochi: Social activist Swami Agnivesh on Friday said communal forces and political vested interests would not be allowed to 'hijack' the anti-corruption movement by the civil society led by Anna Hazare.

"We cannot have truck with any communal forces. We cannot allow communal forces and political vested interests to hijack our movement," he told a meet-the-press programme organised by Ernakulam Press club here.

Asked if yoga guru Baba Ramdev's credibility had taken a beating after the Ram Lila grounds incident where he tried to escape police action by hiding behind his followers and women, Agnivesh said Ramdev had committed some mistakes but the Team Anna has no connection with him.

"The movement by Baba Ramdev was not properly articulated. When he decided to run away, making people human shields, changed into women's clothes ... That was very unfortunate. If he has any truth in his movement, he should repent and admit publicly that he had committed a big mistake," Agnivesh said.

"We are asking for a Lokpal independent of the government. Prime Minister's office, judges of High Courts and Supreme Courts and Chief Justices and conduct of MPs should all form part of the Lokpal bill," he said.

Stating that Team Anna was not out to destablise the country, he pointed out that former Prime Ministers Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao were investigated, but that nothing had come out of those probes.

Agnivesh said there should be Lokpal as independent as the Supreme Court, Chief Election Commissioner and CAG. "These are independent agencies and we are seeking the same status for Lokpal, nothing more or nothing less," he said.

He congratulated the government for improving their original draft, but said it was not yet satisfactory and suggested a provision to protect whistleblowers be included.

He said civil rights activists would organise various activities from August 9-15 and observe August 9 as 'quit corruption' day.