'Media engaged in competitive populist coverage of protest'
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday charged the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of being behind Baba Ramdev's anti-corruption campaign. Chidambaram said the sangh had decided to support anyone raising the corruption issue.
"I think you should know who is behind Baba Ramdev. Go back to March 2011; at a meeting at Puttur in Karnataka, the Akhil Bhatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, which is the apex body of the RSS, decided to support all organisations and individuals that will raise the fight against corruption," Chidambaram said in an interview with Doordarshan.
The home minister said, on April 2, the RSS had announced the formation of an anti-corruption front of which Baba Ramdev is a patron. Chidambaram said a section of media was engaged in "competitive populist coverage" of the protests movement of Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev and others and maintained that it undermined parliamentary democracy.
"I think sections of the media, for reasons which I can't spell out, are engaged in competitive populist coverage of these movements. This undermines parliamentary democracy," he said.
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Image: Yoga guru Baba Ramdev speaks at a press conference
'Against elected representatives yielding responsibilities to civil society'
The home minister said he supported the civil society speaking against corruption by raising their voice. "But I don't support elected representatives yielding their obligations and responsibilities to civil society representatives. Let us remember that the foundation of this country is parliamentary democracy," he said.
Chidambaram criticised the civil society members for challenging Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to a television debate on corruption. "When someone challenges the finance minister to a debate on television, he misses the fact that debate takes place in Parliament and parliamentary debates are televised, and voters watch parliamentary debates and exercise their franchise from time-to-time," he said.
The home minister said the central government was committed to drafting the Lokpal Bill by June 30. "We are clearly committed to the goal that a bill will be drafted by June 30. I sincerely hope that the other five members of the committee will return to the drafting committee's meeting," he said.
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Image: Arvind Kejriwal, Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and Swami Agnivesh
'Don't have a Jaitley, Swaraj dual act in our party and government'
Chidambaram said the next meeting of the joint drafting committee has been deferred because social activist Anna Hazare is not available on that day. "We have deferred (the meeting) by a few days," he said. Chidambaram dismissed the suggestion that there was difference between the government and Congress party in dealing with Ramdev's anti-corruption campaign.
"We don't have an Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj dual act in our party and government. Nor do we have the kind of dualism that was exposed between Jaswant Singh and L K Advani post Kandahar. We speak in one voice. We have a division of responsibility but we speak in one voice and act together," he said.
Chidambaram expressed his sadness over the condition of Rajbala, who was seriously injured during the crackdown on the anti-corruption protesters at Ramlila grounds and said the government has reached out to the family.
Chidambaram said during the police action at Ramlila ground, 39 civilians were injured and all but four were discharged with outpatient treatment. He said two injured civilians were later discharged while one was undergoing treatment and he was doing fine now.
"It is only Rajbala who had suffered serious injury and she is critical. I am very sad. We have reached out to the family. I wish to say no more at this stage, but I sincerely hope that I will have the opportunity to meet the family members," he said.
Image: BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj