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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Anna backs Bedi, Team reiterates Jan Lokpal Bill

New Delhi: Notwithstanding criticism from the ruling party, Team Anna on Tuesday looked 'united' in countering the allegations faced by its members and called for a core committee meeting on October 29 to reach a consensus on all the issues.

Hazare and Kejriwal on Tuesday came out in full support of Kiran Bedi, saying they are ready to face punishment if proved to be wrong. They also said that government has no other option but to pass Lokpal Bill in the winter session of the Parliament.

The Core Committee of Team Anna will meet in New Delhi during which the members are expected to discuss the controversies surrounding the group, including continuance of Prashant Bhushan in the team and alleged financial malfeasance of Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi. It is, however, not clear whether Anna Hazare will attend the meeting as he is on a 'vow of silence'.

The meeting will take place against the backdrop of the resignation of two prominent activists Rajinder Singh and P V Rajagopal and allegations against Kejriwal and Bedi.

Key Team Anna members have been amidst controversies recently. Former top cop Kiran Bedi has been accused of giving inflated claims for her travel expenses. In his latest post, Hazare, who has taken a vow of silence for the past few days, said that if the government feels Bedi had used the money for personal gains, it should probe the matter and "take stringent action against her if found guilty".

Another Team Anna member, Arvind Kejriwal, has been accused of not giving an account of some Rs 70-80 lakh donations collected at Anna Hazare's fast in Ramlila ground in August. Another member, Prashant Bhushan, recently came under attack when he favoured a plebiscite in Kashmir.

Then, travel agent and trustee of India Vision Foundation, Anil Bal, on Tuesday resigned from the NGO following the controversy over Kiran Bedi showing inflated travel expense. He termed the move to return the money incurred through such travel by Bedi as bizarre.

Attacking the governmnet, Hazare on Monday wrote a blog over recent attacks and allegations on Team Anna members. The social activist hit out at the "gang of four" within the UPA government for targeting members of Team Anna. He said that the "gang of four" was acting like ruffians to oppose those who wanted the Jan Lokpal Bill.
One of the key Team Anna members, Arvind Kejriwal also broke his silence on Tuesday daring the government to conduct a probe against him and other Team Anna members even as he questioned the motive behind the 'smear campaign'.

Defending himself and Kiran Bedi, who is under attack for inflating her travel bills, Kejriwal said, "If someone paid the ticket examiner in Railway because he needed a ticket, so that person cannot question Suresh Kalmadi? Is this the message being given out?

"Do you mean to say that out of 120 crore people, only saints can question UPA's corruption and government will keep on robbing people? If anybody questions then that person will be asked to look into his case first," he said and warned that if the current smear campaign continues, the next movement will be 10 times bigger.
Kejriwal, who was accused by Swami Agnivesh of depositing donations for Hazare agitation in a trust run by him, said if they have committed mistakes, then the government was free to probe and punish them by taking the strongest possible action.

"Dont forgive us. Give us twice the punishment given to common people. But bring Lokpal and you will have to," he said.

The Congress party also not looked on a defensive pitch.
A day after Hazare blamed the government for trying to defame his team members, Law Minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday cautioned against creating a divide between the government and civil society.
"I don't think we should talk through media. I will not say anything, I will only say whosoever tries to create a distance between the civil society and the government is not doing any favour," Khurshid said in reply to questions on Hazare's comment.

Khurshid, however, said, "Please don't create greater distance between civil society and us."
Commenting on Hazare's blog, Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh on Tuesday tweeted that he is curious to know who are the lucky ones in the 'gang of four' in the UPA Government. "Anna has blogged against gang of four? Who are the lucky ones? I am curious!" Singh tweeted.


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