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Congress is playing dirty games, says Medha Patkar

Last updated on: August 26, 2011 19:21 IST

'Why is only Congress not backing Jan Lokpal Bill?'

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Sahim Salim in New Delhi

After days of remaining non-committal, the Bharatiya Janta Party has finally decided to endorse the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Parliament. With the opposition party demanding a Lokpal debate under the voting rule in both the houses, they have virtually locked horns with the ruling Congress.

Though the focus is now shifting from Anna Hazare, whose fast reached its 11th day on Friday, to the deadlock between the government and opposition, team Anna member Medha Patkar says that she welcomes BJP's move.

In an interview with rediff.com's Sahim Salim the social activist said that Team Anna expected a deadlock between the Congress and BJP when the BJP took a stance on the matter.

Don't you think the BJP has shifted focus on the dialogue between the government and Team Anna by virtually endorsing what you have been working on for the past so many months?

The way I see it, we (Team Anna) have been asking the BJP, as an opposition party, to take a stand on the Jan Lokpal Bill for so many days now. Some representatives of Team Anna had a long meeting with them and explained the Jan Lokpal bill. We cleared all reservations they had about the bill and explained to them what we wanted. Post this meeting, they realised they agreed broadly with all the points we have been professing. The one or two points they did not agree on, they put forward publicly.

The BJP has actually come out with a resolution which broadly endorses what you have been saying all this time. What do you have to say about that?

Isn't that just fantastic then? In addition to the BJP, the left parties are also backing it. So many other parties are now backing it. Why is it that only the Congress, which claims it wants a corruption-free India, the only party that is not backing it? Why is the Congress in so much hesitation? I mean sometimes they start enquiries against Team Anna members, sometimes they talk about cases against them, sometimes they say there are other versions of Lokpal bill which need to be discussed, so on and so forth all these are just delaying tactics of the Congress party.

They simply refuse to take a stand on the bill. There is a 73-year-old man who is on a fast to ensure a corruption-free India, who has the backing of the entire nation; how are any of these delaying tactics helping? They (Congress) did not even give a notification in the Parliament for a debate. Why didn't they? They have been in a dialogue with Team Anna; they know his fast has been going on for 11 days, why was a debate not initiated?

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Image: Social activist Medha Patkar at Ramlila Maidan
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant/Rediff.com
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'Only respect parties supporting the Jan Lokpal Bill'

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That is what I have been asking you. The focus seems to have now shifted from the dialogue between Team Anna and the government to the war between the government and the opposition. What happens to Anna's fast now?

We had expected this. Whenever the BJP was going to take a stand, this was going to happen. I think by pressing for the points Team Anna wants, they are doing the country a favor. They have great respect for Team Anna. I only have respect for all the parties supporting the Jan Lokpal bill.

The Congress is playing dirty games and it has become obvious to everybody. Look at the dealings of the Congress with team Anna. Were they not playing shady games all throughout? They play these dirty games and then claim that the opposition does not allow the house to function. Their members of Parliament create ruckus in the Parliament and don't let the leader of opposition speak. What nonsense!

Again, I am talking about Anna's fast. Since the Jan Lokpal bill and team Anna's demands have becomes politicised, what about his fast? What about the dialogue between the government and team Anna?

See, my point is that their (BJP's) agenda is right. They are pushing for it so that Annaji can break his fast. I say, you people as representatives of the media, should not take the focus away from Anna's fast. Don't put the focus on these two political parties. Let them debate and take stands on it in the Parliament. There is no war between the BJP and the Congress. In fact, after our meeting with the BJP, they said that they would not politicise it. 

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Image: A supporter of Anna Hazare wipes his eyes during the ninth day of his fast at Ramlila Ground
Photographs: Reuters
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'Congress is trying to avoid the Jan Lokpal Bill'

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Yes, that was announced, but they have come out with a resolution which basically is Team Anna's draft. How is that not politicising?

They can't just stand back and stay out of it because of Congress's delaying tactics. It was at 2.10pm on Friday that the Congress addressed the Parliament and passed a resolution under a completely unexpected section (193). Why did they do that? Why didn't they pass it under a section which would have actually ensured that the three basic points we have been fighting for would have been passed?

The Congress's tactics in this was utter nonsense. Now the Congress is just worried that BJP will score brownie points in the Parliament. We understand these games. This nation's citizens are not dumb, you know.  

Have you heard Rahul Gandhi's speech in the Parliament today? What does Team Anna make of it?

I did. My view is that if he had all this to say, he should have done it seven years ago. They have been in power for seven years and suddenly now dimaag ki batti jali? (dawned upon them) Rahul Gandhi should have given these suggestions a long time ago; at least some days ago. This (speech and its timing) was so obvious. The moment you saw Sachin Pilot, Milin Deora, Jitin Prasada (Congress MPs), you knew the next entr e was going to be Rahul Gandhi.

The entire country has been reeling under corruption and the Congress has been doing nothing about it. And now they are trying to avoid the Jan Lokpal Bill. Yes, that is what they have been doing; avoiding the Jan Lokpal.


Image: Social activist Medha Patkar at Ramlila Maidan in support of Anna Hazare's movement on anti-corruption
Photographs: Sanjay Sawant/Rediff.com
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