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Congress terms Anna’s fast premature, insult to parliament

The Congress Sunday rejected Anna Hazare’s token fast for a strong anti-corruption Lokpal bill, terming it “preemptive” and “premature” and an “insult to parliament”.

“I have no hesitation in saying that Anna is insulting parliament,” said Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi.

“The Lokpal bill report has been submitted. There will be debate and decision will be taken. Laws cannot be made at Jantar Mantar,” he said.

Terming the fast “premature”, government spokesperson Ashwani Kumar questioned Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley’s participation in the debate held at the fast venue.

“As far as Mr. Arun Jaitley’s going there is concerned, as the leader of his party in Rajya Sabha, he should have debated it (Lokpal bill) in parliament,” Ashwani Kumar said.

Defending Jaitley, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said: “Political parties expressing their opinion on an important issue like Lokpal is utilising democracy.”

“A debate anywhere is normal,” she said, adding that “the issue should not be confined to parliament”.

“Parliament will do whatever it has to do,” said Sitharaman.

Choosing to maintain silence over political parties attending the debate at Hazare’s fast, a leader of Congress ally Nationalist Congress Party said, on condition of anonymity, “Anna’s language is obnoxious”.

Hazare was on a one-day token fast at Jantar Mantar in the capital. The activists had also invited political representatives for a debate on the Lokpal bill which was not attended by the Congress. 

Alvi called Team Anna’s tactics “politics”, and pointed out links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP.

“Anna himself said he will wait till the winter session but then he went to Haryana to oppose the Congress. The debate on Lokpal is not yet over in parliament and they are staging this protest,” he said.

“Anna is saying we will oppose the Congress in all five states, if this is not politics what is it?”

“I cannot say on whose directions they are working but the RSS has openly supported them and Anna wrote to (L.K.) Advani and said ‘we are thankful for your help’,” Alvi said.

Ashwani Kumar said: “A public debate is, in a way, pre-empting and prejudging the issue which is really contemptuous to the judgment of parliament.”

“I think these are matters which should be left to parliament,” he said.

Another party leader, Sanjay Nirupam, said Team Anna was trying to find ways to “bother” the Congress.

“They are finding ways to bother the Congress and the government, but the Congress is not bothered,” Nirupam said on a TV channel.

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