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Digvijay continues assault on civil society members

April 21, 2011 15:55 IST

Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh was on Thursday at pains to explain his sudden bonhomie with expelled Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, one-time vociferous critic of the top Congress leadership.

Amar Singh, who had on umpteen occasions made derogatory remarks against not only Digvijay Singh but also against Congress president Sonia Gandhi as well as her son Rahul Gandhi, was seen sharing a dais with Digvijay as well as another arch political foe, Salman Khurshid in the latter's constituency Farrikhabad on Wednesday.

"Well, that was simply a social dais, which I shared with Amar Singh. It should not be misconstrued as a step towards any kind of political alliance or something," Digvijay hastened to clarify at a press conference in Lucknow later.

The Congress general secretary, who is also in-charge of UP affairs, was all set to take on all civil society activists, who were spearheading the public campaign against corruption through their demand for a Lokpal Bill.

While his main attack was on eminent veteran lawyer Shanti Bhushan and his activist son Prashant Bhushan -- both of whom are members of the Lokpal Bill draft committee -- he also trained his guns on Karnataka Lokayukta and former Supreme Court Judge Santosh Hegde and Magsaysay awardee Arvind Kejriwal.

He was at his wit's end when a scribe asked him whether he saw Amar Singh as a more credible man than Shanti Bhushan.
"I have already answered three of your questions; give a chance to other journalists also," he pleaded, while skirting the question.

As he went on harping on the alleged irregularities committed by Shanti Bhushan in the purchase of a giant-sized property in Allahabad's prime civil lines area as also on the allotment of farm house plots to him in Noida, he shirked away from a straight reply when another scribe wanted to know if the UPA government's top ministers in the Lokpal Bill draft committee should also be making their assets public.

When the scribe persisted with his question, Digvijay Singh said, "All ministers and MPs make an

annual declaration of their assets. Therefore there is no need for a separate public declaration in their capacity as members of the draft committee."

Embarking on the issue of rampant corruption in the Mayawati government, the Congress general secretary sought to link the murder of two district chief medical officers within a span of six months to those very financial bunglings.

"When the state government had admitted that such financial irregularities were going on for sometime in the state health and family welfare departments, for which it sacked two ministers, then why is it shirking away from a CBI inquiry into the whole affair," he asked.

Even though it was public knowledge that two Public Interest Litigations had already been filed in pursuance of the demanf for a CBI probe into the murders, Digvijay Singh declared, "We will now file a PIL to press that demand."

Claiming that the Congress-led UPA government was committed to fighting corruption, he gave examples of the arrest of various politicians and top officials who were jailed for their involvement in various scams, including 3G , 2G, CWG and the Madhu Koda scam.

"With so much corruption going on in Uttar Pradesh , I wonder why someone like Anna Hazare does not launch an anti-corruption in Uttar Pradesh," he said with an air of sarcasm, while adding, "We will support him with all our strength."

He also sought to run down Justice Santosh Hegde by pointing out, "If activist Arvind Kejriwal's remark that the Karnataka Lokayukta Act was the most powerful of all Lokayukta institutions in the country and that Justice Hegde was the most effective of all Lokayuktas, were to be believed I fail to understand why Justice Hegde had failed to curb corruption in that state where the entire Yedurrappa government was neck deep in corruption."

Digvijay further questioned the huge assets owned by Baba Ramdev and his trust.

"The yoga guru must not only declare how he had acquired so much wealth but also clarify if all of it was white money and not a single paise out of that was black."

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow