Hazare defends Bedi, says 'gang of four' behind campaign
Veteran activist Anna Hazare on Monday night defended his key associate Kiran Bedi from the allegations of "air travel corruption", pointing fingers at a "gang of four" in the ruling party being behind the campaign against his team.
Observing that to accuse and humiliate seemed to be the mantra of "the few", the anti-corruption crusader said they were afraid of a Jan Lokpal taking shape fearing that the legislation would strip them of power.
With his team members facing allegations of financial malfeasance, Hazare expressed these views in his latest blog posting 'Rise and Fight against 'Gang of Four'.
The social activist however did not name the four persons whom he was referring to.
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Image: Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and other supporters at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi
'Every member of Team Anna had to face accusations'
"To accuse and humiliate seems to be the mantra of the few. This is not the first time that such accusations have been levelled against Kiran Bedi. Every member of Team Anna had to face accusations and character assassination by the gang of four. Who are these people? Those are the very same people who are not in favour of Jan Lokpal Bill," he said.
Recalling the formation of the joint committee to draft Lokpal Bill, he said these people did not want the Jan Lokpal bill passed.
Bedi, a former IPS officer, is under attack for overcharging organisations by inflating her travel bills though she claimed the money went to her NGO.
She had offered to return the excess money collected from her hosts. "I do not blame all the ministers from the Congress party or the government as a whole. There are some righteous and committed people in the government but they cannot raise their voice because of this 'gang of four'," Hazare said.
Image: Anna Hazare with close aide Arvind Kejriwal
'If bill isn't passed, I'll tour places where assembly polls are due'
Claiming that the number of ministers who are opposing Jan Lokpal Bill in Cabinet was handful, he said it was similar to a village where there are "two to four goons" who hold the entire village to ransom.
"In government there is a majority of people who are righteous but can't go against these ruffians. Leaving aside these specific 4 to 6 people no one points a finger at us," he said.
He said those who are trying to create mischief will learn a lesson and this is the only opportunity we have in order to get a corruption free India, "now or never".
Hazare also sent out a stern warning over the Jan Lokpal issue. "If the government goes back on its word and refrains from passing the Jan Lokpal Bill then it will have to face much more damage than they are facing now. But if a stringent Jan Lokpal Bill is passed then the government will be able to bounce back from the damage it has faced till now," he said.
Hazare said if need be he too will tour the country and campaign for the cause. "If the law is not passed in the winter session then I will tour the five places where assembly elections are due to be held and then tour the rest of India during national elections."
"People should make it a point that they form a resolution on the Jan Lokpal Bill to be passed in winter session or else we will once again agitate and send it across through their village panchayat and gramsabha to Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and to the President. From all over India 35 to 40 lakh resolutions should reach the government."
Image: Supporters of Anna Hazare protest at Ramlila Maidan
'Gang of four pressurising the govt'
Hazare claimed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Law Minister Salman Khurshid have given assurances regarding passage of a law in favour of Jan Lokpal Bill during the coming winter session of Parliament.
"This shows that righteous people are in majority as to gang of four who are 'quite capable of pressurising' the government not to bring Jan Lokpal Bill and if need be might take help of the handful belonging to the opposition party," he said.
Regarding the allegations faced by Bedi, the Gandhian said the government should probe them as suggested by her and if found guilty should take stringent actions against her.
"But the government doesn't seem forthcoming in taking such a step," he said.
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh