Kolkata, June 12: Congress today hit back at Anna Hazare and Ramdev accusing the civil society of working to undermine democracy backed by BJP which was using “unconstitutional” methods in the anti-corruption movement.
Senior Congress leader and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also took on RSS saying it was raising the corruption issue because it had become “jittery” after the Congress accused it of having links with the Malegaon blasts.
Mukherjee while announcing Congress' plans to launch a nationwide anti-corruption campaign took on BJP, saying it was backing Hazare and Ramdev to gain support of people after it was “rejected” in the recent Assembly polls and accused the party of providing “logistic support” to their agitations and resorting to “unconstitutional practice”.
“The Constitution has given the power to legislate only to Parliament and the state Assemblies. If 5,000 or 6,000 people dictate from outside what the Parliament ought to do, this will weaken democracy,” he told a press conference. The campaign is seen as a bid by Congress to counter the movement by Hazare and Ramdev.
In hard hitting remarks targeting BJP, Mukherjee said, “when the parties are rejected by the people and if they want to resort to unconstitutional practice it is totally unacceptable. They are providing logistic support to all those agitations.” He however did not name the party.
BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad in his response asked Mukherjee not to shift anger on BJP and RSS.
“He (Pranab) must be angry because of the stabbing he received from his own party for going to the airport. But don't shift anger on BJP and RSS,” he said. “In a democratic system, in a democratic society, everybody has a right to agitate on certain issues which he feels right or wrong....Those who want to dismantle the process of Constitution, Congress party will fight against them,” Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee also ruled out acceding to Hazare's demand for videography of the drafting process of the Lokpal Bill, saying this was not possible in view of the fact that the drafting committee members will express their views “freely”.
Their views, however, would be available on audio recording, he said.
Referring to Hazare's deadline of August 15 for passing the Lokpal Bill, Mukherjee said the Centre had suggested that the draft Lok Pal Bill would be placed during the monsoon session of the Parliament.
It was not possible, however, to give a timeframe by when the bill would be passed, he said.
“We have suggested that the Bill be tabled in Parliament during the monsoon session. But who can say when the House will pass it? The Parliament is supreme.”
Asked why the government had initiated dialogue with Hazare and Ramdev, he said, “We wanted to give them a chance. If we did not talk, we would be accused of arrogance. Now that the government has talked, it is accused of being weak. Like questions are being raised as to why four ministers went to the airport to talk to Baba Ramdev and not to receive him.”
Mukherjee, who circulated a note in English about his party's views on the issues, said that debates, discussions and seminars would be organised from the district to the block levels to put forth the party's views. PTI