Only Congress is capable of making these u turns, sometime
First, Digvijay Singh and his gang comprising Amar Singh (a relative of his) were let loose to attack Anna Hazare's associates Shanti Bhushan, his son Prashant and also Justice Santosh Hegde.
Fearing backlash over constant attack by some Congress leaders against civil society members of the Lok Pal drafting panel, the Congress leadership is understood to have advised partymen not to
express their "personal" views.
The decision to 'gag' the party leaders come close on the heels of
heated exchange of words between senior leader Digvijay Singh
and one Lok Pal drafting committee member Justice Santosh Hegde.
Miffed by personal attack from Mr Digvijay Singh, Mr Hegde had
threatened to quit the panel. Moreover, the CD controversy on Bhushans
- raked up basically by Mr Amar Singh is also
seen as Congress instigation.
Apparently asked to restrain himself, former Madhya Pradesh
CM and party general secretary Mr Digvijay Singh, in the thick of a
controversy over remarks on the Bhushans and Justice Hegde, first made a modest climb down in his pitch and said
the Congress and the government were in no way connected with the
alleged smear campaign against civil society representatives.
Maintaining that he had at "no time" attacked Justice Hegde,
Mr Singh said he had only stated that despite Lokayukta in Karnataka there was "rampant corruption" under the BJP regime.
"As far as Congress and government of India is concerned, we are
absolutely clear that we would not hamper the proceedings of the
drafting committee," said Mr Singh, known for enjoying good rapport with
Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul.
In the end, the core committee got into action.
After ticking off party leaders for making
constant attack on Lok Pal drafting
panel members, the Congress core committee on April 22 sought to end the
mudslinging on the civil society
representatives and came out openly "in full support of the panel".
Speaking after the Congress's core group meeting, party veteran and
Finance Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee said the party was in no way connected with the alleged smear campaign against the civil society representatives especially against former union law minister Mr Shanti Bhushan and his son Prashant.
"The party has not and will not hamper the work of the joint committee
to draft the Lok Pal Bill. The government members will work with Anna Hazare and colleagues to draft a strong Lok Pal bill", he said
also clarifying that "working of Lok Pal Bill drafting panel won't be
affected by controversies over some members".
"The contrversiies have been raised about members of the joint
committee on the Lok Pal Bill. I would like to make it clear that
the view of government as also the view of party, the Congress, the working of
Lokpal Bill drafting panel won't be affected by these controversies,"
he said after a 90-minute meeting of the core group.
The euphoria over the Anna Hazare's seminal campaign against
corruption finally taking off, has been muted all of last week, after
questions were raised first over a CD controversy pertaining to Mr
Shanti Bhushan and then he and his son getting prized land in Noida
and alleged evasion of stamp duty in Allahabad.
Karnataka Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde, a member of the joint
committee, was also not spared after senior Congress leader Mr
Digvijay Singh yesterday maintained that as Lokayukta Justice Hegde
had failed to fight corruption in Karnataka.
A miffed Justice Hegde has threatened to quit the panel saying he
would not be party to such a fight.
It may be mentioned here that last week, Anna Hazare had written to
Congress president Sonia Gandhi urging her to rein in party leaders
from the smear campaign against the panel members.
Replying to which, Ms Gandhi had said her party did not support any
kind of smear campaign and
was committed to root out corruption.
The core group's decision and Mr Mukherjee's statement also come a day
after the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said that
the government hopes to introduce the Lok Pal Bill during the monsoon
session of Parliament.
The Congress party's move seems is directed at averting any further
controversy. The episode, party insiders feel could boomerang
on the government in the event Justice Santosh Hegde - as threatened -
quits the panel.
Hegde has said that he would announce his final decision only tomorrow.
Mr Hegde had said that he was "very very hurt" by Mr Singh's criticism
of his track record as Karnataka's Lokayukta.
The Lok Pal Bill is aimed at combating corruption including at high
places. The committee in charge of writing it was set up earlier this
month after a hunger strike by 72-year-old Gandhian Anna Hazare. He
became the unifying factor in an unprecedented movement that demanded
the government prove its intent to introduce a radical and tough new
law, which is pending over the last four-five decades.
The Lok Pal Bill Committee pairs five ministers with five activists Mr
Hazare, Mr Santosh Hegde, Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, and
former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan, who was declared the co-chair of
the committee, at par with the Finance Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee.