Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Jittery Cong calls Anna Hazare an RSS agent : North: India Today

Jittery Cong calls Anna Hazare an RSS agent : North: India Today

Anna Hazare
Vociferous Protest: Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and other activists during the anti-corruption stir in New Delhi on Tuesday.
The grand old party is showing its mean face. Rattled by the huge groundswell of support forveteran Gandhian Anna Hazare, who began a fast unto-death to press for a comprehensive anti-corruption watchdog law, the ruling Congress party reacted on Tuesday by trying to discredit Hazare's growing movement.

The party's counter-offensive hinged on the shocking claim that persons like Hazare were acting like agents of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).

Liberally loading its smear brush with saffron, a senior party leader fumed, "He is not a Gandhian, but an RSS agent." The insinuation, however, doesn't seem to be registering with the thousands of ordinary citizens who joined Hazare in a protest sit-in at Jantar Mantar, even as spontaneous demonstrations of support erupted across the nation.

But the Congress is seeing darker designs behind the movement. Senior party leaders, while refusing to go on record, said similar campaigns had been launched in 1972 in the form of the "JP movement" to destabilise Indira Gandhi in the aftermath of the Bangladesh War. Later, the same was done to the Rajiv Gandhi, when the spectre of the Bofors scam was raised, they said. "The same forces in different form have now infiltrated Hazare's campaign, while some civil society activists have been co-opted," a Congress leader said.

"And in between there is enough scope that if any constructive suggestion comes, amendments can be moved," he said requesting Hazare to engage in "constructive discussion." He downplayed questions on National Advisory Council's reported rejection of the draft Lokpal Bill saying that in a democracy, differences always exist and a harmonious consensus is arrived at through healthy discussions.

The party says it has no problem with the Bill hanging fire for over four decades, but the course adopted by Hazare which is fraught with dangers. "The entire democratic process can be held to ransom if some maverick sits on a dharna demanding this or that," a senior Congresman said.

While the party was officially restrained, senior party leaders came down heavily on Hazare saying that his so called movement against corruption was supported by characters like yoga guru Ram Dev, and "RSS backers" like Gurumurthy.


  • The first mention of an anti-corruption ombudsman (Lokpal) was made in the early 1960s when Jawaharlal Nehru was PM. But it was in 1966 that a Lokpal was proposed at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states

  • In 1968, a Lokpal Bill was presented for the first time in the fourth Lok Sabha. The House passed it in 1969. But while it was pending, LS was dissolved

  • The Bill was revived in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998 and 2001. But each time, it was referred to some committee of Parliament

  • The most recent revival effort was in 2008, when UPA-I was in power. The government has now prepared a rough draft of the Bill

  • A fresh movement for an effective Lokpal began in 2010 after a series of scams. An alternative draft - Jan Lokpal Bill - was prepared by activists India Against Corruption under the guidance of Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan