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'Government underrated Anna's movement'

Last updated on: August 22, 2011 15:36 IST

'Government underrated Anna's movement'

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In yet another indication of the growing discomfort in sections of Congress with the handling of the Anna Hazare crisis, a senior party leader on Monday said that the government underestimated the Gandhian's movement against corruption and asked it to enter into dialogue with him.

"Anna's movement against corruption was underestimated by the government. It is time that it entered into dialogue with him to end his fast," Anil Shastri, who is a Special Invitee to Congress Working Committee, said on Twitter.

Shastri, former editor of party mouthpiece Congress Sandesh, now heads the newly-created Hindi Vibhag of All India Congress Committee.

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Image: Anil Shastri, speacial invitee to the Congress Working Committee
Photographs: Reuters
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'Anna's crowd is a movement against corruption'

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During the last few days of his tenure as editor of Congress Sandesh, his remarks in an editorial in the journal criticising the government's step of sending three ministers to receive Yoga Guru Ramdev had stoked a controversy and the party had officially distanced itself from his remarks.

In yet another tweet, Shastri without naming Union Minister Virbhadra Singh, described his remark that even a 'madari' (conjurer) could gather crowds as "in bad taste". In his tweet, Shastri said, "A senior Union minister says even a 'madari' could gather crowds. This is in bad taste. Anna's crowd is a movement against corruption."  

In a veiled attack on anti-graft agitation led by Anna Hazare, Singh had said a few days back that people should not be carried away by the size of crowd in the country of one billion as even a "madari" draws good crowd.

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Image: Union Minister Virbhadra Singh
Photographs: Reuters
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'Many party members are uncomfortable'

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Asked about his tweets, Shastri told mediapersons that many party members of Parliament are feeling uncomfortable because of the police action against Hazare.

He cited the example of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's son and MP Sandip Dikshit, who categorically said the decision to arrest Anna Hazare was wrong.

Shastri's remarks have come at a time when a Congress MP has submitted a copy of Jan Lokpal Bill for consideration before the Standing Committee headed by Abhishek Singhvi, which is examining the Lokpal Bill.

Some key ministers, Dikshit and some MPs on Monday faced protests on the issue of the Lokpal Bill as people gathered in front of their houses here following a call by Anna Hazare.

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Image: Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit
Photographs: Reuters
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'PM's resignation not a solution to the menace of corruption'

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People protested in front of the residences of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Human Resource and Developement Minister Kapil Sibal, Dikshit and some MPs. The first to face the ire of people was Sibal. Around 40 protesters staged a protest outside his Teen Murti residence seeking his support for the Jan Lokpal Bill.

Meanwhile, Singhvi has described the submission of a copy of Jan Lokpal Bill by the Bareilly MP Praveen Singh Aron as "another input" adding that the Standing Committee is open to all kinds of opinions.

In another tweet, Shastri dismissed senior Bjharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani's demand for resignation of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, saying it was "not a solution to the menace of corruption".

At the same time, he demanded that the Government should give its nod to CBI for prosecution of officials in various departments involved in corruption cases noting that the approval for their prosecution is "awaited for months."

Shastri also said the issue is not Anna Hazare but the "menace of corruption that has come up to neck" and added that the fast by Hazare is getting such support because "people are fed up with corruption".


Image: BJP leader L K Advani
Photographs: Sahil Salvi
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