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Stand firm against Team Anna, CWC tells govt

By Renu Mittal
June 24, 2011 22:17 IST
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There was veiled criticism of the Manmohan Singh government by members of the Congress Working Committee for allowing Anna Hazare and his team to hijack a democratically elected government, and for the use of pressure and the threat of fasts to ensure that the government acted as per their diktat.

The CWC asked the government to act tough against Anna Hazare and not allow it to be hijacked in the future. The party made it clear that the government should take whatever steps necessary to ensure it does not happen again, and that it would back the government in such a scenario.

At the same time, the government would also reach out to political parties across the spectrum and persuade them to stand as one and not allow the democratic process to be held to ransom.

The government's argument is today it is the United Progressive Alliance, tomorrow it can be any other political party or group, but safeguarding the constitution was of utmost importance. It was decided that ministers will contact political parties and impress upon them the need to stand united against such forces.

While Congress president Sonia Gandhi made her introductory remarks, saying that she and the prime minister had always spoken out against the issue of corruption and the government had  taken a great number of steps, she asked Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to brief the members on the issue of Lokpal bill and the deliberations within the committee.

While Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi did not speak during the course of the meeting, it is still a matter of debate on his views on how the entire Lokpal issue has been handled by the government.

But it is learnt that his close advisor Digvijaya Singh was his usual and articulate self when he lambasted the government for the shoddy manner in which the Hazare-Ramdev issue was handled.

Sources said he spoke about how the impression had gained ground that the government had surrendered when they included five members of the civil society in the drafting team. He was also critical of the handling of the Ramdev issue and said so many ministers should not have gone to the airport to meet him.

Home minister P Chidambaram reacted to the criticism and without mentioning Singh, attacked him by saying that the leadership should put a check on the number of voices in the party which were speaking on every issue. He said the government was acting tough and added it was not true that there was any surrender to people such as Anna Hazare.

Sonia Gandhi tried to broker peace by saying that this was not the time to criticise each other but to send across a message of firmness and toughness.

She said party workers should be asked to go from village to village, make contact at the mass level, and hold meetings and seminars and press conferences to send across the party's message about what it was doing. Otherwise, she said, there would be anarchy in the country.

The party is planning to bring out a number of booklets on the Lokpal Bill and other issues and through these make the stand of the party clear on the Lokpal to avoid any confusion.

It was felt that articulate and outspoken members should be brought forward to put across the party and government's views in the media, since the scribe community was very critical of the government on a number of issues.
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Renu Mittal in New Delhi
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