New Delhi, Dec 10: On the eve of day-long fast to protest against the Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Lokpal Bill, Gandhian Anna Hazare today outrightly blamed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for the weak Lokpal Bill draft approved by the Parliament Standing Committee.
“We doubt the brain behind all this is Rahul Gandhi. I want to ask him, can't you see so much of widespread corruption throughout the country? If Rahul works with such an attitude, then he will be a danger for the nation if he becomes Prime Minister”.
Hazare will sit on a daylong fast at Jantar Mantar on Sunday, to which all political parties have been invited, but the Congress, in writing, has refused to attend. BJP, BJD, JD-U, CPI, CPI-M, SP, TDP leaders have agreed to attend.
This is a marked departure from the earlier ‘civil society' protests where political leaders were hounded out by Anna's supporters. At the meet the press at Press Club of India, Anna Hazare was asked why he was blaming Rahul Gandhi, why not Sonia.
Hazare quipped : “She is not well. Why should we make her more unwell by naming her?” The press conference was addressed by Anna Hazare, Shanti Bhushan, Prashatn Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Medha Patkar. Kiran Bedi was conspicuous by her absence.
Team Anna outrightly rejected the Standing Committee report on Lokpal Bill saying that the Lokpal has not been given any investigative powers. “The proposed Lokpal is just like an empty tin box”, said Kejriwal.
It would have been better, had the government not brought this bill, he added. Anna Hazare said government has “cheated” the entire country and that he will carry on his campaign till next Lok Sabha elections to create awareness against UPA.
The social activist said he suspected Rahul Gandhi was behind Standing Committee rejecting even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's promise to include the Citizen's charter, lower bureaucracy and establishment of Lok Ayuktas in the states.
“They have cheated the whole country. The Prime Minister had given in writing that these three issues would be brought under the Lokpal Bill...The Prime Minister's letter was thrown into the dustbin. Why this volte face? Is Singhvi's post higher than that of the Prime Minister,” Hazare told reporters here.
“There is somebody behind... Who is bigger than the Prime Minister?... We suspect Rahul Gandhi could be behind this... Who else can dare to challenge the Prime Minister? That is why there are these problems,” Hazare said, alleging that their intentions are “not good”.
He was referring to Standing Committee headed by Abhishek Singhvi which has disfavoured inclusion of Group C and D employees and kept out Citizen's charter and Lokayukta.
Hazare, who will hold a day-log fast at jantar mantar tomorrow, said he will resume his anti-corruption agitation from December 27 and then carry on this for next two years till the Lok Sabha elections.
“We will continue to fight for the next two years. We will move around the whole country before the general elections to create public awareness,” he said and asked “Why to retain those who have destroyed the country?”
Continuing his attack on Rahul, the 74-year-old Hazare said, “he is young. He could become the Prime Minister. But if he becomes Prime Minister with these kind of thoughts, then it will be dangerous for the country.”
At one point during his press conference, he also had comment on Sonia Gandhi's illness in reply to a question. “She is ill. If we say something, her illness will increase,” he said while describing her as “leader of the country.”
Asked why he was only targeting Congress, he said as the main party in the ruling coalition it was Congress' responsibility to bring a strong and effective Lokpal.
During tomorrow's agitation leaders from several non-UPA parties including BJP's Arun Jaitley, JD(U) Sharad Yadav, CPI's A B Bardhan, CPM's Brinda Karat, SP's Ram Gopal Yadav and TDP's Chandrababu Naidu will be present.
Expressing his anger over Government's handling of the Lokpal issue since his first agitation in April, Hazare questioned whether the country had democracy or dictatorship.
“Are you running the government for people or yourself? People will teach you a lesson,” he said addressing the government.
He noted that the Prime Minister had given him in writing in August that his demands would be sent to Standing Committee but its chairman said there was no such letter. “Is it a government or a shop of a trader,” he said.
Hazare said he has faith in Parliament as there are good MPs who have promised support for a strong Lokpal bill.
“We have faith on MPs but why did Standing Committee do this. We have faith in Parliament. There are good people who said they would support,” he said.
Demanding inclusion of group C and D employees under the ambit of the proposed Lokpal, Hazare said if it was not done, the poor people will not get justice.
Describing the Standing committee as a “mini Parliament”, he said it should not have “cheated people”.
“People in Government say they are not afraid of our agitation. So, you go your way and we will go our way,” he said adding he will also visit the five poll-bound States to campaign against the UPA.
He also said the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament should be extended to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill if its passage was not cleared in the scheduled time. “Parliament session should be extended if necessary to pass the Janalokpal Bill as 9-10 days of business are already lost.”
Earlier in Ralegan Siddhi before leaving for Delhi, Hazare said “this government is intoxicated by power and money. It cannot see anything else...Like a drunk man becomes unconscious, similarly the government is unconscious. It is our job to get them into their senses.”
Activist Arvind Kejriwal alleged that government was shooting from Anna Hazare movement's shoulders to “destroy” anti-corruption systems in the country.
Training guns at Rahul, he noted, “Singhvi said the Standing Committee cannot go by the wished of one person. But the Committee has unanimously agreed to give Constitutional status on the demands raised by one person.”
Lawyer Shanti Bhushan said the Standing Committee has not accepted the provision in the government bill of the Lokpal having investigation powers.
During the press conference, Team Anna supporters also made a youth who tried to raise a question to Hazare.