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Sunday, 13 November 2011

Core committee will be revamped, says Anna


New Delhi: After the controversy over whether his core committee will be revamped or not, Anna Hazare has said his core team will be expanded and the members will be screened before being inducted.

Team Anna is all set to induct more members after another round of consultation with his close aides Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhuhan. The 76-year-old social worker has decided to have a 50 member strong core committee, drawing members from all sections of the society.

"The members will be screened before being inducted. People with good track record will be taken in the committee," Hazare said.

Hazare also said the core committee members will be bound by a code of conduct which will be finalised by the month-end. He said there will be a strict monitoring system for the members.

The decision to expand the core committee comes in the wake of allegations that Hazare's movement is being controlled by a select few and the team was losing its focus with key members bickering in public.

Sticking to his previous stand, anti-corruption crusader Hazare on Sunday said that the investigating agency CBI should not be brought under government.

Hazare also said if the Lokpal bill is not passed in the Winter Session of Parliament he will start the anti-graft campaign again.

However, the Congress is not committing itself to any dead line. The left is also pushing for a strong bill in the Winter Session.

Congress Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "We can't set deadlines on Parliamentary process."

The Parliamentary standing committee scrutinising the Lokpal Bill is to finalise its report by December 7. With the session ending on December 21 the government may find it difficult to get it passed in such a short span after the standing committee report is tabled in Parliament.

Book lovers miss Anna at fair


PATNA: Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, who successfully mobilized Indian youths against widespread corruption quite recently, is being missed badly at the National Book Fair at Gandhi Maidan.

"I am very much influenced by Anna. I had even participated in anti-corruption stir at Kargil Chowk here. It is extremely sad there is no book on Anna's life in this so-called national book fair," Ashok Chandra, a student of journalism at Patna University, told TOI.

TOI talked to over a dozen visitors at the book fair on Saturday. Almost all of them said they were searching for some material on Anna.

This is despite the fact that many books have been published on Anna Hazare. Most of them are of semibiographical nature. While some are in Marathi, Hindi and English versions have also come into the book market.

After Anna's anti-corruption crusade, Pentagon Press brought out 'Anna Hazare: The Face of India's Fight Against Corruption' which details Anna's life and his movements. Another book, which has been translated into English by B S Pendse, 'Ralegaon Siddhi: A Veritable Transformation' is also virtually a book on Anna. "My Village - My Sacred Land," published by CAPART publications is another such book.

However, none of them are available here. "Anna's biography is available online. But today, Anna has got such a stature that every household should have at least one hard copy of his biography," said Dhrub Kumar, a city-based writer.

For Shruti Sinha of Magadh Mahila College, Anna is a 'GK issue'. "These days every examination has question on Anna Hazare. If I have a book on him, it will be better," Shruti told TOI. Bihar coordinator for India Against Corruption, Ratnesh Chaudhary also pitched in for books on Anna.

When informed about it, director of Prabhat Prakashan, Piyush Kumar told TOI that a book on Anna's life is ready. "We are trying to launch the book in Patna book fair within two to three days," he said.

Over 30,000 book lovers on Friday visited the book fair. "Footfall starts right at 11am and reaches its peak as evening approaches. In the last two days, more than 50,000 book lovers have come here," said Rakesh Kumar, in-charge of the book fair.

In the wake of brisk buying, several publishers have increased the rebate on their books. Former President A P J Abdul Kalam still tops the sales chart. Kalam's motivational books, 'Jeevan Briksha', 'Wings of Fire', 'Ignited Mind' and others are witnessing brisk buying.

Probably taking the cue from CM Nitish Kumar who had written 'Vikshit Bihar Ki Khoj' in Hindi, which was a hit in 2010 Patna book fair, Bihar's industry and disaster management minister Renu Kumari Kushwaha has written a book, 'Gandhi Darshan Ke Panch Sutra'. The book is available at Prabhat Prakashan stall. It will be formally released by eminent journalist Kuldip Nayar on November 16.

On Saturday, a workshop on creative writing and drawing was held at the book fair. Over 200 students from five different schools participated in the event. A discussion on 'Career in Media' was also held in the evening.

BOX

Sunday's Events

Poster-making competition from 11am to 1pm

A workshop on satirical writing. Famous satire writers like Alok Puranik, Ravindra Rajhans, Gopal Chaturvedi and others will participate in it.

Baba Ramdev steps up pressure on government to enforce strong anti-graft laws


Varanasi/Pune, Nov.13: Yoga guru Baba Ramdev has said that the ruling Congress party will face serious consequences in the upcoming assembly polls if it fails to introduce a strong legislation to check corruption, the flow of black money out of the country and retrieval of unaccounted money stashed away abroad.
 
Interacting with media in Varanasi on Saturday, Baba Ramdev said: "If the government does not declare black money as national treasure, if it does not take action under the Corruption and Money Laundering Act to bring it back to the country, if it does not accept our demands for sweeping reforms in India's economic system to curb corruption, illiteracy and poverty, if the federal government does not initiate measures to address these three issues soon, then it (ruling Congress party) will have to bear the brunt in the five upcoming assembly polls."

The Congress-led government in Asia's third-largest economy has been facing protests from several civil society groups and opposition parties against its alleged apathy in ploughing back billions of dollars of ill-gotten wealth parked in foreign tax havens by many Indians.

As per estimations of Global Financial Integrity, Washington based think tank, between 2002 and 2006, the yearly amount of money laundering from India was in the range 16 billion dollars that is around 1.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

In January, the government, under intense political pressure, announced a slew of measures, including stronger disclosure pacts with foreign countries, to curb tax crimes and repatriate illicit funds.

Daring the Congress party, Baba Ramdev, now a frontline eminent anti-graft campaigner, urged the government to immediately initiate measures to bring back black money stashed in foreign banks.

In Pune, lawyer and civil society activist Prashant Bhushan, who is a close aide of veteran crusader Anna Hazare, defended the core committee of the nationwide anti-graft movement, which has been facing allegations of financial impropriety from several quarters.

Addressing a seminar, Bhushan said: "India Against Corruption has not taken very large funds. In fact, the total fund that India Against Corruption has received, during this entire campaign, is less than rupees 3 crores, out of which we still have in our bank balance, about a little less than half of that money. In fact, we stopped collecting funds from Ramlila Maidan when we found that we had more money than we really needed."

Identifying anomalies in the existing democratic structure of India, he added to say it was extremely difficult for an honest person to enter the field of politics and contended the scenario of public life in politics was criminalised and corrupt ridden at almost all levels.

"This whole business of representative democracy and elections has become so thoroughly corrupted that it has become virtually impossible for selfless people to come to power in this system. That is why, I keep saying, we need to move ahead, move beyond this model of representative democracy to a model of participatory democracy," added Bhushan.

For the past few weeks, the simmering face-off between India's ruling Congress-led government and the brigade of anti-graft campaigners led by Hazare, has turned into a political potboiler, with both sides routinely criticising one other on a range of issues.

In August, Hazare spearheaded a nationwide movement against corruption, holding a peaceful hunger strike to demand the establishment of an anti-graft agency with powers to investigate the Prime Minister, judges and civil servants.

Tapping into a groundswell of public anger against endemic corruption, Hazare succeeded in uniting the country's bulging middle-class against a hapless political class through a hunger strike, underlining voter anger at the Congress party.

A stung Congress retaliated by accusing Hazare of indulging in politics due to his anti-government stance. Many have also accused Hazare's key aides of indulging in corruption themselves.

Lately, the Congress party-led central government has come under intense public scrutiny over its perceived hesitancy in dealing with corruption, though leaders of the ruling coalition continue to remain on the defensive.

A string of multi-billion dollar corruption scandals has angered Indian opposition and masses, smothered Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's reform agenda and dented investor confidence at a crucial time when the economy is hit by inflation and higher interest rates.

In a 2010 survey, Transparency International rated India at 87 on its list of the world's most corrupt countries.

IAC team from Chhattisgarh to visit Ralegan to invite Anna


Raipur: India Against Corruption team from Chhattisgarh will soon visit Ralegan to invite anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare to the state.

IAC has been trying since long to get Anna pay a visit to Chhattisgarh. The team which will visit Ralegan will have two IAC members from every district of Chhattisgarh. The team will depart for Ralegan on November 14.

IAC activists Umakant Tandia and DK Soni said that the organisation had been trying sice long to get Anna hold a rally in Chhattisgarh. They contacted Anna’s assistant Sudhir Pathare fro this who asked them to visit Ralegan on Nov 17 to discuss the issue.

End govt's discretionary powers to curb corruption: Godrej


MUMBAI: Industry doyen Adi Godrej today said bringing in an anti-corruption law like the Lokpal Bill will not help weed out corruption from the polity and stressed that the malaise can be removed only by dismantling government's discretionary powers.

"I don't think only a strong Lokpal, even the kind of the Lokpal Bill that Anna Hazare's team has suggested, will by itself solve the problem. I think we have to dismantle government's discretionary handling of things," the Godrej Group Chairman said at a special session on the fallout of the corruption movement in the country, at the WEF-CII organised India Economic Summit here.

Be it business permissions or day-to-day permissions, described by some as petty corruption, Godrej said that unshackling of the present system of "case-by-case government permissions" will alone help in tackling the issue.

He also spoke about the economic benefits of ending or bringing down the scourge of corruption.

"If we are able to fight corruption successfully, I think it will considerably increase foreign investment. I also think if we are able to reduce corruption considerably, it can add about a percentage point to the country's GDP growth," Godrej said.

On the black money issue, Godrej said he was amused as to why the money has to be kept in Swiss banks which fetch around 1 per cent interest when parking it in the domestic financial system can fetch it a minimum of 8 per cent.

The government should make it appealing for such persons to keep the money onshore through its policies, he said.

People vote for Anna's Lokpal bill


LUCKNOW: In a referendum conducted by Team Anna in eight parliamentary constituencies represented by political heavyweights in UP, an overwhelming 90% people have voted in favour of Anna Hazare's version of Lokpal Bill. The voters have also assured to vote out sitting MPs if they fail to support Anna's Bill in Parliament.

The referendum was conducted between October 2 and November 2 in parliamentary constituencies of Rae Bareli, Amethi, Varanasi and Ghaziabad, represented by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi and former BJP national president Rajnath Singh respectively.

The referendum also covered Mainpuri, the constituency of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Hamirpur represented by BSP leader Vijay Bahadur Singh, Ambedkarnagar represented by BSP leader Rakesh Pandey and Lucknow represented by BJP leader Lalji Tandon.

Bahadur and Pandey are also members of the parliamentary standing committee drafting the Lokpal Bill, which is expected to be placed in the winter session of Parliament.

To the question if they would vote for their MP if he/she votes against Anna's version of Lokpal Bill in Parliament, 99.5% of 1.06 lakh people in Rae Bareli said they will not vote for Sonia Gandhi if she opposed Anna's Lokpal Bill. Similarly, in Amethi 98.30% of 1.06 lakh people, in Mainpuri 91.85% of 1.07 lakh, in Ghaziabad over 90% of 1.05 lakh, in Lucknow over 95% of 1.15 lakh, in Varansi around 99% of 1.11 lakh, in Hamirpur 93% of 98,250, in Ambedkarnagar 97% of 1,05 lakh and in Kaushambi 99% of 1.01 lakh people voted in favour of Anna.

Interestingly, in Amethi 2,983 persons said they will vote for Rahul even if he does not support Anna's version of Lokpal Bill.

A Team Anna member Sanjay Singh told TOI that the referendum got huge public response.

"Referendum forms were distributed in cities as well as villages. Volunteers of India Against Corruption conducted the survey through a mass contact programme carried out in markets, panchayats, railway and bus stations, etc. People from all sections of the society, caste, gender and faith took part in the exercise. The participation of youth was overwhelming," he claimed.

He also claimed that a large section of the population, which included Muslims, is angry with Congress leaders, particularly party general secretary Digvijay Singh, for launching an organized campaign to discredit Anna and his team.

"Muslims said that Digvijay is wrong in thinking that he will be able to appease Muslims and divert public attention from the issue of corruption through his statements. Most of the people were of the view that corruption has hit dalits, backwards and Muslims the most as they belong to financially weaker sections of the society. They believe that benefit of welfare schemes never reaches the people at the bottom due to corruption," he added.

Official questions Anna’s trusts


Assistant charity commissioner of Ahmednagar district, Shailendra Tambe, has observed irregularities in the trusts related to anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. The irregularities relate to filing of information of office-bearers, members and properties. He has asked the trusts to comply with the technical requirements.

Tambe passed the orders on three cases filed by Rashtriya Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Sanghatna president, Hemant Patil, who lives in Pune, about the trusts related to Anna on November 11.

Patil on Saturday provided copies of the inquiry reports and orders passed on them by the assistant charity commissioner. He filed complaints about three trusts — Sant Yadav Baba Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan Nyas and Swami Vivekanand Krutadyata Nidhi all stationed in Ralegan Siddhi (Ahmednagar district), the native village of Hazare. Anna is the founder president of these trusts.

Patil’s complaints were about not following provisions of laws for management of public trusts regarding property and membership. The complaints were filed in April, 2011.

In an order related to the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan Nyas (anti-corruption movement trust), assistant charity commissioner has ordered trustees to file an application immediately about additional movable property and four-wheeler vehicles, to regularly file annual budgets of the trust, to Qregularly file information about executive board, members and employees of the trust every year.

In an order related to Sant Yadav Baba Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, the assistant charity commissioner has said that there is no clarity in the rules of the trust regarding election and tenure of executive board. The trusts should make correction in the rules.
Assistant charity commissioner has said that there is increase in movable and immovable properties of the trust and hence an application should be filed immediately regarding it. Also, henceforth caution should be taken to file the details within deadline.

In case of Swami Vivekanand Krutadyanata Nidhi, the assistant charity commissioner has ordered to follow suggestions of chartered accountant in the balance sheet. There are also other orders similar to those for other trusts about providing information regarding executive board and property of the trust.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Has Brand Anna redefined the Big Idea?


The Big Idea is usually defined and understood as "a surprising solution to a marketing problem expressed in memorable verbal and /or graphic imagery". However, management and communication gurus have been quick to spot the lesson from Anna Hazare's astonishing example of how a Big Idea can sweep the nation and mesmerize all right-thinking people --especially the Indian diaspora -across the globe.

Could anyone have ever imagined in his wildest dreams that the next leader who would storm popular imagination in India would not be a young, fresh-faced leader, who would contemptuously fling aside the cobweb-ridden ideologies representing the old guard to lead us to a dazzling, glittering, new technology-enabled future, but a largely unknown khadi-clad 73-year-old with a benign look? Hardly, one would think, a likely candidate for the ambassadorship of Brand India or Incredible India or India Shining!

Vijay Govindarajan, professor at Tuck School of Business at Darmouth College, believes that it is dangerous to embrace stereotypes or use cliches. "Companies, communities and countries can be inspired and empowered by the Big Idea. What better example than Kennedy's Man on the Moon or Gandhiji's non-violence? Anna's common trait with the father of the nation appears to be the path-breaking leadership skills that have pulled middle class India out of cozy homes to hit the street, making it a true people's movement." He believes that Anna's movement scores big on three points: "Re-enforcing the notion that democracy is alive, well and kicking; that the biggest enemy to economic growth is corruption; that social justice is critical (to a sustained 300 million.")

Leo Burnetts' head honcho Arvind Sharma brings his own take to the table. He believes all great brands are great because they serve a human purpose, and iconic communicators are those who connect the brand values powerfully with the select target group. "Anna's Big Idea is not corruption -- because that's nothing new. It's the Lokpal Bill -- a strategic device to address this dreaded disease. Giving shape to a solution away from an amorphous context, in a tone and tenor everybody understands. No wonder his Big Idea is getting such big response!"

But Bharat Dabolkar, theatre actor and ad man, explains that Anna's movement has nothing to do with either branding or the Big Idea. "C'mon, both corruption and the Lokpal bill have been around for over four decades. It is Anna's persona -simple, direct, uncomplicated sans glamour or personal vested interest, old world charm, powered with passion and conviction from the heart - that has fired the popular imagination. It is not an image created or manufactured by a PR agency but one that responded spontaneously to the most overriding concern of the day, in an identifiable way, cutting across all strata of society."

The last word, however, must be reserved for Delhi-based director of Concept Advertising, Esha Guha: "It's clearly the biggest idea since Gandhiji's movement relating to India's independence. Anna Hazare has single-handedly converted cocktail party chatter as well seminar and symposium jabber into an explosive deliverable by merely articulating the USP: Corruption." Let's also, she points out, not underestimate the power of television in providing close-ups of a reality show that was real. "The defining image of an old man fearlessly praying at Rajghat- evoking the image of the Mahatma himself -was brilliantly timely and emotive enough to touch a million hearts. Also his reclaiming of the pride reserved for the Gandhi topi, making it a dynamic statement of truth, is brand building at its best."

So is Brand Anna truly redefining the Big Idea, as the marketing and communication fraternity says, or is it merely a case of the right person, the right time, the right place, the right message reaching a receptive, captive and right audience?

Anna Hazare undecided on ties with Swami Agnivesh


RALEGAN SIDDHI: Veteran social activist Anna Hazare on Saturday said that there was no harm in talking to social activist Swami Agnivesh.

Hazare made these remarks while interacting with mediapersons at his native village of Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra.

"What is the harm in talking (to him), we will think about it," Hazare said.

The Gandhian activist's remarks comes a day after Agnivesh expressed desire to apologize to Hazare after their fall out, when he was sitting on a hunger strike with an aim to exert pressure on the Central government to pass an effective Lokpal Bill.

Agnivesh had said that he was willing to apologize to Hazare after he made an exit from the popular reality show 'Bigg Boss'.

Earlier, in a video that was also posted on YouTube, Agnivesh was heard talking to a person named "Kapil", that many presume was Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, during the stand off between the Central government and Hazare in August.

In the video, Agnivesh was reportedly heard passing malicious comments about his fellow agitating civil society activists led by Hazare.

The controversial video had raised doubts over Agnivesh' claims of supporting Hazare's cause and ended in a fall out between the two.

Anna Says, Let God Give Good Sense To The Conspirators


Ralegan Siddhi/Lucknow/Patna, Nov 12: Top anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Saturday commented on India TV sting exposing conspiracy to attack him in UP by saying "Let God give good sense to the conspirators".


Hazare said, in a democracy, everybody has the right to express his opinion, but in a peaceful and non-violent way. "If somebody wants to view some thing differently by wearing a different spectacle, it's their issue. I can only say, Let God give them good sense (to the conspirators)."

Team Anna member Medha Patkar, whom the conspirators have decided to target on December 10  said, violent attacks are unacceptable in a democracy and the government should ensure security.

Samajwadi Party working president Akhilesh Yadav said, it is the government's duty to provide security to Anna and his team. "Government must ensure that Anna Hazare and his team members are unharmed", he said.

Social activist and former Team Anna member Rajendra Singh said, there should be no violence in a non-violent agitation. "It is necessary for the government to stop the conspirators."

Congress backs Nitish Kumar on criticism of Team Anna


Endorsing Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s criticism of Team Anna after it found fault with the Lok Ayukta bill passed by the state assembly, the Congress also reiterated the supremacy of the elected representatives in a democracy.

“We are in agreement with Nitish Kumar, as we accept the principle that in a democracy, the elected representatives are accountable to the people, and no outsider can dictate terms,” said party spokesperson Manish Tiwari.

The Congress also feels that when someone like Anna Hazare claims to be above the Parliament, it also does not go down well with the people.

Hazare made demi-god by Team Anna members: Blogger


Seeking to put Team Anna members on the backfoot, the Gandhian's former blogger Raju Parulekar has accused a 'gang of four' in Anna Hazare's core team of using the activist as a demi-god to further their interests and hold government to "ransom".

Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare with his team members addressing a
press conference at Rajghat in New Delhi


Parulekar, who fell out with Hazare after the latter publicly snubbed him on the issue of restructuring of core committee, alleged that Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and Manish Sisodia had "free reigns" and had free run in media by becoming "experts" on various subjects which gave them also the "stature of being virtuous and demi-gods".

He sought answers from Hazare as to who "pressurised" him not to show the door to Bhushan from the core team for his controversial comments on plebiscite in Kashmir, saying who will understand the legal loopholes in the bill and whether he was aware of the financial transactions of Kejriwal and Sisodia and their "ambitions".

He also questioned the entire Jan Lokpal Bill movement in his blog posting late last night to put his side of the story claiming that he had not manipulated Hazare's blog postings.

He said the "disillusioned" countrymen have misled to believe that this self-centered movement will "create heaven for them" and a stricter Jan Lokpal Bill (law) can abolish more than 50% of corruption from their life.

"...truth lies somewhere else," he said, adding "this bunch of 20-plus people and 'gang of four' among them take the country for a ride and hold the government for ransom...are we going to place our country in the hands of these four-five people and their salaried gang members? ".

"How difficult will it be for the agitation to sustain and pull ahead alone on Anna Hazare’s moral strength? Which direction it is heading to? Are any of us Indians familiar with the other members of Team Anna except for Bhushan father-son-duo, Bedi, Sisodia and Kejriwal? Who has selected these 21 people to represent the 120 crore people in India?" he asked.

The only difference between parties and Team Anna was the moral authority wielded by Hazare because of which 20-plus people including 'gang of four' enjoy privilege of being called 'patriots' and whole political class bow at their feet with "sheer guilt of their absolute corruption..."

Parulekar, who also released a letter he wrote but did not sent to Hazare, said there is no movement on the ground to bring systemic change and the present fight for bill if enacted will mean "another opportunity for corruption".

On the controversial letter by Hazare on restructuring Team Anna which was made public by him, Parulekar said Hazare has cast aspersions on his honesty and integrity but he felt that it was not the Gandhian's words but those of somebody else, "dangerous, wicked, self-centered and in real-sense enemy of the people of country called India."

He claimed that the October 30 meeting in Ralegan Siddhi was stormy and Hazare contradicted Kejriwal and others.

"I have shown Annaji's handwritten and signed letter for re-structuring 'Team Anna' to the trio. They were shaken but remained arrogant. Kejriwal said, 'we 'Team Anna' have decided in Kosambi that the ‘team’ will remain so hence the letter is insignificant.' He went on to claim that to re-structure 'Team Anna' will harm Janlokpal issue. Annaji wrote on a piece of paper, 'how come re-structuring and Janlokpal bill issue is contradictory?' Annaji's reaction was all the more explosive," he said.

Parulekar claimed that Bhushan mocked at Hazare asking what he knew about Chinese history as he spoke about a 'gang of four' in government targeting Team Anna.

Parulekar also alleged that Kumar Vishwas' letter seeking disbanding of the team was "orchestrated" by Kejriwal and others. "The moment I announced to the media your plans of bringing about changes in 'Team Anna' at the earliest, Kumar Vishwas suddenly appeared from Gaziabad and started reading and explaining the letter that was meant to be a 'secret'," he said.

He also questioned why the donations for Hazare agitation was deposited in the trust held jointly by Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia and why it was were not deposited in Ralegansiddhi's trust account.

"Swami Ramdev, Shri Shri, Medha Patkar, Rajendra Singhji and even Hegde sahib distanced themselves from the movement. Though they do not publicly disown the movement they are hurt within which is absolutely visible," he claimed.

Swami Agnivesh says he will apologize to Anna Hazare


NEW DELHI: Swami Agnivesh, who had a bitter fallout with anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, has said he wants to apologise to the Gandhian if he has made any mistake.

Agnivesh, who ended his two-day stint on reality show Bigg Boss last night, said he would like to meet him as soon as possible.

"I will say sorry if I have said or done anything wrong. I will try to meet him as soon as possible. With all respect and humility I will apologise to him at the earliest opportunity," Agnivesh said.

The 72-year-old activist was in the eye of a storm soon after Hazare's hunger strike when a video surfaced in which he was seen talking to an unidentified person asking him to deal strongly with the Gandhian. This led to his estrangement from Team Anna.

When asked whether he would like to rejoin Anna's movement, Agnivesh said he never left it and would concentrate on being a reconciliation factor now.

"I will try to bring everybody together. I will talk to Baba Ramdev, Aruna Roy, Santosh Hegde and work towards regrouping on a large scale, without mulling over events in the past.

"I am sure the government will approve of Jan Lokpal on a constitutional level, but that's just a small part in the anti-corruption movement. We need to change people's mindset," he said.

Agnivesh said he was warned against entering the reality show on Colors but his fears ended once he was locked inside the house with the other contestants and he found it a good opportunity to convey his message to people.

"Despite the time constraint of squeezing 24 hours into 45 minutes, I think I got a good opportunity to deliver my message. Its a peaceful and reflective place with an informal environment. Nobody can manipulate you if you remain true to yourself," he said.

Agnivesh had entered the fifth season of Bigg Boss on November 8 and was locked in for two days alongwith contestants like Pooja Bedi, Juhi Parmar, Mahek Chahal and Shonali Nagrani.

Ex-servicemen to invite Anna for holding anti corruption rally in Himachal


Dharamshala: Ex-servicemen league of Himachal has drawn up plans to invite Anna Hazare for holding an anti-corruption rally in the state.

A former minister and president HP ex-servicemen league Vijay Singh Mankotia let Hill Post know that after holding a two day annual general meeting of the organization, three resolutions were adopted, which included sending out a team to Maharashtra for extending an invite to Anna for holding a rally at Dharamshala.

Endorsing the stand on Jan Lokpal Bill, Mankotia said the state body of ex-servicemen also intended to honour Anna, also an ex-serviceman, with Shan-e-Hind title for the fight against corruption he has been waging.

Our league supports the fight against corruption to expose corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists and work for good governance by ensuring accountability, he said.

The second resolution adopted by the league has condemned the statement of defense minister AK Antony saying that the UPA government could not concede the ‘one rank, one pay’ demand of the ex-servicemen.

For 25 years the union government has been giving a firm commitment about implementing the demand, said Mankotia.

The matter will be discussed at a national conference of ex-servicemen to be held at Delhi on 25th and 26th November.

The third resolution has asked the state government to install the statues of Major Somnath Sharma, the first Parm Vir Chakra, Major Durga Mal and Captain Dal Bhadur at the Vidhan Sabha complex at Tapovan, Dharmshala.

Major Durga Mal and Captain Dal Bhadur were Gurkha members who were part of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind Fauj and were hanged by the British rulers in 1945 and 1946.

All the three of these brave sons of India belong to an area that is within a five Kms from Tapovan, says Mankotia. There statues deserve to be part of Vidhan Sabha complex and we will be raising this demand with chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, he said.

Quraishi rules out 'impractical' right to recall


Kolkata: Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi on Friday ruled out social activist Anna Hazare's demand for right to recall saying this was not practical in a country like India.

"We have made it clear that right to recall is not a very practical idea for India. If a representative is elected for five years he will remain for five years in our system," he told reporters at the sidelines of the Maulana Azad Memorial Lecture here.

Quraishi said the right to recall could also lead to instability when 2,000 or 5,000 people, not even 50,000 people, would get together and demand recalling a representative who had been elected by four lakh voters.

Thus if a representative secured four lakh votes, the recall process would ultimately take away the democratic rights of four lakh voters, he said. "This will be a misuse of power and thus could not be applicable in India."
"I held a discussion on this with Team Anna... It was a very cordial meeting. I made it clear to them and hope they are convinced," he said.

Anna's support for Dalits half hearted: Udit Raj


New Delhi: Dalit leader Udit Raj, who has been pushing for a Bahujan Lokpal bill, has termed as "half hearted" Anna Hazare's intention to involve Dalits, tribals and minorities in the Lokpal institution.

Udit Raj claimed Hazare changed his stance after the massive rallies organised by him. He has been asking for reservation for Dalits and minorities in the anti-graft ombudsman through his Bahujan Lokpal bill.

"Anna's call to rope in Dalits and minorities in the Lokpal is half hearted. Hazare changed his stance after we built up pressure," said Udit Raj.

The Dalit leader said he will organise a protest rally at the Ramlila ground in Delhi on November 28 to push his demand.

"If Anna accepts our demands, we will welcome him. We are also concerned about corruption," said Udit Raj.

Udit Raj, the national chairman of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, urged Anna Hazare that if he wants to associates Dalits, tribals, minorities in his movement then he should first talk about reservation in the Jan Lokpal Bill for such communities.

Raj said Dalits are apprehensive whether Anna and the government are concerned about them.

Police on high alert for Advani’s rally


After Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare, it is BJP leader LK Advani’s turn to visit Ramlila Maidan to conclude his Rath Yatra. After the discovery of a bomb on the route of the yatra in Tamil Nadu, police have begun reviewing security arrangements to be put in place in and around the ground.

“The organisers have been issued a No-Objection Certificate for the rally on November 20. Since it is a Sunday, we are expecting a huge crowd. Senior BJP leaders are expected to attend the rally,” a senior police officer of the central district said.

The Intelligence Bureau has already issued an alert. So, the Delhi Police have plans to deploy 100 commandos in and around the venue. “We have asked the organisers to install Door Frame Metal Detectors, Hand Held Metal Detectors and baggage scanners. They will also install CCTVs in and around the ground and set up a control room inside the venue,” the officer said.

The control room will be manned by police personnel. Also, cops in civil clothes will be deployed. “Generally, we require 1,000 personnel to secure the venue but for this rally, we are planning to call six extra companies (around 400 policemen),” the officer added.

There will be a separate gate for the VVIPs. Moreover, an emergency exit will be put in place near that gate in case of a crisis. The visitors will be allowed to enter from three gates.

“We have learnt a lot from the past two rallies at Ramlila Ground. After what happened at Ramdev’s rally, people had raised several questions about our ability. But Anna’s protest was an example of maintaining law and order without the use of force. In Advani’s rally, our focus would be on the security of VVIPs and visitors,” the officer said.

A soldier's return


With elections nearing, BJP brings back B C Khanduri as CM of Uttarakhand.

Time is short and the target uphill. With elections to the Uttarakhand state assembly five months away, the Bharatiya Janata Party has recalled Major General (retired) Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri. He replaced Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank as chief minister in September. This may be BJP’s last-ditch effort to check the anti-incumbency wave of recent months. Army officers hold great appeal here because of the large population of ex-soldiers. The regiments that draw men from Uttarakhand boast of two Victoria Crosses and two Param Vir Chakras. Khanduri, with his thick moustache and ramrod-straight frame, could help rope in those votes.

 More important, he must clean up the mess in Dehradun. BJP knows that because of the Anna Hazare movement, popular patience is running thin. In two months, Khanduri has tried to make himself the Hazare of Uttarakhand. The Lokayukta Bill, was cleared by the Uttarakhand Assembly on November 1; two days later, Governor Margaret Alva gave it her nod.
The bill covers all government functionaries, including the chief minister and former chief ministers. The Lokayukta need not take permission from any minister or officer before starting a probe. Its recommendations will be binding on the government. Punishment is six months to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment; in the rarest of the rare cases it could go up to life imprisonment. The higher the offender’s rank, the stricter the punishment. If the accused is a business entity, the Lokayukta can recover up to five times the loss and blacklist it for government contracts. Khanduri’s detractors are quick to point out that five of the seven Lokayukta members must concur before MLAs or top bureaucrats can be prosecuted. So they can breathe easy.

Still, Khanduri feels he has struck a chord with voters. “BJP will do much better than expectations,” he says. Why else would Hazare, he reasons, have told the Manmohan Singh government to model its Lokpal Bill on the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill? “We want to realise the dreams of our statehood activists who made the real sacrifices,” he says. “We have done a lot of work but a lot more is still to be achieved. Uttarakhand is the first state where such a strong Lokayukta Act has been introduced.”

* * *

He has actually done more. To provide public services within a stipulated timeframe, a Right to Service Act has been formulated which will cover 62 services. More services could be added to this list. A new department called Suraaj, Bhrashtachaar Unmulan and Jan Sewa (good governance, eradication of corruption and public service) has been set up. All ministers, senior bureaucrats and policemen have declared their assets. A new law allowing for the confiscation of wealth and property amassed by public servants through corrupt means has been enacted; assets seized will be reinvested for a social cause. Forest land of up to 400,000 hectares will be released to the people. New laws on postings are formulated to ensure that essential services like health care and education are delivered in remote hill areas, where absenteeism is the norm among hospital and school staff.

For an ex-army officer, Khanduri, 77, has sizeable political acumen. Khanduri rose in BJP after his cousin was denied a Congress ticket to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Pauri constituency in 1991. Khanduri went on to defeat the Congress’s Satpal Maharaj. He became chief whip of the BJP parliamentary party in 1992. In 1996, he lost the elections to Maharaj but became vice-president of BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit. He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998 and 1999. In 2000, Khanduri became union minister of state with independent charge of road transport and highways in the Atal Behari

Vajpayee government. Dehradun resident G S Rawat praises Khanduri for his role as highway and road transport minister: “More than his good work, Khanduri is known for his honesty.”

* * *

In 2004, he was elected to the Lok Sabha for the third successive time from Pauri, but BJP lost power at the Centre. When elections were announced in Uttarakhand in 2007, BJP’s central leadership made Khanduri chairman of the election campaign committee, and later he became the chief minister.

Within 10 days of taking the oath, Khanduri directed that no interviews should be held for government jobs. There would be only objective questions, and an examinee would be able to take a copy of his answer sheet home, to know how he had done. The state would publish only the cut-off mark; all who scored above it would be taken in.

“The people of the state were frustrated. There were 40-50 scams going on,” Khanduri had told Business Standard nine months into his new job. “Even my sifarish [recommendation] can’t get anybody a government job in the state now.” He had set up two inquiry commissions to look into scams and misuse of authority during the five years of Congress rule. Some 250 cars with beacon lights, and 350 policemen, were taken off VIP duty. Officers were told that they could travel to Delhi only by train. Khanduri cut his own entourage of cars from eight to three, and would take the overnight train to Delhi. “We are not nawabs, we are servants of the people,” he had said. He also ordered that every file have a slip tracking its movement; officials were told to record when they had received and cleared it.

Khanduri faced the ire of his political foe, former CM Bhagat Singh Koskhiryai, which led to his ouster after the 2009 general elections in which BJP lost all five of its Lok Sabha seats in the state. Khanduri was succeeded by Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. It is said that Khanduri himself recommended Nishank for the job. As a series of alleged scandals began to swirl around Nishank, Khanduri took advantage of Anna Hazare’s campaign and managed to dislodge Nishank.

The question is: can he do enough before the elections to stem the tide?

Proof against Chidambaram and Robert Vadra soon, says Subramanian Swamy


Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, who has moved the Supreme Court in the 2G spectrum scam, said on Thursday that he would soon have enough evidence to make Union home minister P Chidambaram a co-accused.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a talk that he delivered to students of DY Patil University’s Global Business School and Research Centre here.

Swamy told reporters he was waiting to inspect a crucial 2G spectrum file seized by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) two years ago, after which he would be ready to expose the involvement of Chidambaram and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, Robert Vadra, in the case.

“Vadra has substantial shares in a telecom company, which has benefited from the issuing of licences. Once I get access to the file, I will reveal the name of the company and also produce the evidence against Robert and even Congress supremo, Sonia Gandhi,” he said.

Swamy’s plea for access to a file relating to the Unified Access Services Licences (UASL) policy regarding sale of equity (lock-in period), that was seized by the CBI on October 22, 2009, was upheld by special CBI judge OP Saini early this week.

He said the anti-corruption movement launched by crusader Anna Hazare would not be enough to eradicate corruption from society.

“At this moment, the fight against corruption is being fought at three levels by Baba Ramdev, Anna Hazare and me. While Anna is fighting for a new law, I am pressing for prosecution of the corrupt within the ambit of the present laws,” he said.

Swamy saidHazare’s and Ramdev’s movements were popularising the fight against corruption and garnering public support for it.

Talking at Tilak Smarak Mandir, Swamy said the Action Committee Against Corruption headed by him would file a case with the CBI asking it to register a first information report (FIR) against ‘unknown persons’ who held illegal bank accounts in foreign banks before November 28.

He alleged at the function, organised by the Professionals against Corruption and Prabodhan Manch, that Chidambaram and Sonia Gandhi had amassed Rs50,000 crore and Rs1 lakh crore respectively in foreign banks.

He would use the law about “politically exposed persons” in Switzerland and the US to get the illegal accounts frozen, he asserted, adding that if the CBI refused to register the FIR, he would move the court.

He criticised the fiscal policies of the Central government and said that because of these, huge amounts of black money had been generated in the country. He criticised the policy of participatory notes and said the wrong policies of the government had “rigged the stock markets completely”.

While lauding the work of government agencies like the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and the CBI, Swamy said a concentrated effort is being undertaken by some members of the Central government to defame these authorities.

Cashing in on Anna Hazare’s success


Controversy magnet Sach Ka Saamna seems set to cash in on Anna Hazare's success.

The show, in its second season, has roped in people with dubious lives to reveal it all on the show. However, this time, it will be a fight against corruption on the show. Apparently, a few episodes of the show had already been shot, but the channel has now decided to make it a bhrashtachaar special, taking a leaf out of the crusader's diary. Reveals a source, "The second season was shot with the likes of Ali Merchant and Nigaar Z Khan.

However, the show has now been transformed into a bhrashtachaar special. The channel is trying to rope in allegedly corrupt public servants to appear on the show. There's still an ambiguity if the episodes already will be aired or not. The shoot for the same will commence soon." We sent a text message to producer Siddharth Basu and host Rajeev Khandelwal but they did not revert.

Sonia takes on Anna - Congress chief questions ‘noise’ over corruption




New Delhi, Sonia Gandhi, who could not attend her first public rally after surgery because of viral fever, has sent a message to Team Anna that it was free to do politics but it should also think about the nation.

This is the first time Sonia has questioned the activists’ intentions. In the past, she had restricted herself to vague homilies in her formal replies to Anna Hazare’s letters.

However, she said today: “Everybody can pursue his or her own political agenda but should also rise above personal interests to think about the nation.”

Congress leaders interpreted the statement as a signal that she was not averse to an antagonistic discourse with Team Anna.

Although a section of the party feels that Sonia’s decision to lock horns with Team Anna is fraught with risks as she will be asked uncomfortable questions, other feel that her stand matches an assessment in the government that its version of the Lokpal bill has found wider acceptance among experts than that of the activists.

Sonia had always hailed Anna and had chosen only to iterate her commitment to fight corruption in her past interactions but she understands the need to confront the anti-Congress propaganda launched by his group, a source said.

Sonia was more incisive and blunt on Lokpal, asking “why so much noise had been generated when the Prime Minister and the Congress are committed to a strong bill and the matter is in Parliament”.

The Congress president’s speech was read out by a party MP at a rally in Uttarakhand where she was supposed to lay the foundation of a railway project. Alive to the possibility of speculation about her health, Congress leaders said she was suffering from “a mild viral fever” and nothing more should be read into it.

Asserting that corruption cannot be fought by lofty rhetoric, Sonia said in her speech which was circulated in Delhi: “Pointing fingers at others will yield no result. We all should look within. We cannot presume that our corruption is good and others’ corruption is evil. This is what is happening today.”

While this observation is aimed at the “opportunistic” stand of the BJP on corruption, it is also an oblique reference to Team Anna’s analysis of charges levelled against its own members, Congress sources said.

Sonia defended her party’s record in fighting corruption. “Who brought the RTI? Who raised the issue of probity in public life and suggested measures to counter it? We have done it. I can say, I did it. Wherever I found any evidence of wrongdoing, I have acted without waiting for inquiry report.”

She recalled it was the National Advisory Council headed by her that initiated public consultations on a strong Lokpal.

Babbar questions Hazare ‘credibility’


After Anna Hazare declared that he will campaign in the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, one of the top campaigner of the Congress in the state Raj Babbar has questioned his credibility, asking where was he when people from the Hindi heartland were being evicted and harassed in Mumbai.

Mr Babbar said that though he supported the issue of fighting corruption he has doubts about credibility of people behind the movement.

Mr Babbar, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Firozabad, sought to know why Mr Hazare did not take a stand when a number of people from UP and other north Indian states faced the ire of MNS in Mumbai.

“Now that Mr Hazare wants to campaign in UP he should explain where was his Gandhian ideals when the Babri mosque was being demolished. He should also tell the Muslims of UP what was he doing when scores of members of minority community were being massacred in Gujrat during the post-Godhra riots,” said Mr Babbar, while speaking to this newspaper.

The Congress MP claimed that the team Anna campaign is like a bubble which will soon fizzle out and would have no bearing on the outcome of the UP Assembly elections. “We do not need to counter assertions of the team Anna. People after a while will come to know of the real intentions of the campaign, which is a clear front of BJP-RSS combine,” added Mr Babbar.

He also charged that the RSS has been in the habit of propping up photographs of Gandhi, Patel and Bose depending on its requirement. Mr Babbar claimed that campaigns of Sri Sri Ravishankar, Ramdev and others in UP would not make much of a difference. These campaigns reflect desperation in the saffron camp, added Mr Babbar. He said it was bizarre to see people like Kiran Bedi leading the campaign against corruption.

India TV Sting Reveals, Thugs Planning To Attack Anna Hazare, Medha Patkar


New Delhi, Nov 11: India TV on Friday night exposed with the help of hidden cameras miscreants who have planned to attack anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and Team Anna member Medha Patkar when they visit Lucknow and Delhi.

The sting was carried out on the  very same persons who had  bashed up Prashant Bhushan in Delhi and had thrown a chappal at Arvind Kejriwal in Lucknow.

The stings carried out with the help of hidden cameras by India TV reporters in Lucknow and Delhi during the month of October and November showed that these persons having admitted that they were "professionals" who carried out such acts for money.

The "professionals" revealed that they were planning to carry out an attack on Team Anna member Medha Patkar on December 10 in Delhi by hiring a group of women. Medha Patkar was speaking too much about Kashmiriyat, one of the "professionals" said.

Jitendra Pathak, the man who threw a chappal at Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal on Oct 18 in Lucknow's Jhulelal Park, said during the sting operation, that he planned to use a bomb to attack Anna Hazare himself when he would visit Lucknow.

In a Nov 1 meeting at Lucknow's Royal Cafe with India TV reporter posing as an organiser to felicitate him, Jitendra Pathak said he would attack Anna Hazare during the latter's UP visit.

Pathak said: "Anna agar chunaav me aaye, toh maare jayenge....Hum bomb bana sakte hain. Kuch aur logon ki jaan jaaye toh jaaye  (If Anna comes during elections here, he will get killed... We can make a bomb... If some other people die, let them die)

Vishnu Gupta, the man who beat up Prashant Bhushan in the lawyers chambers in Delhi on October 12 over his remarks on Kashmir, told the India TV reporter  on Nov 4 at a coffee house in Sec-18, Noida on Nov 4 that  Medha Patkar was their next target.

"Agla hamlaa Medha Patkar par hoga.  Kuch mahilayen taiyar ki hai.... Kyonki woh mahila hain, nahin toh case lag jayega ki mahila par haath uthaya" (Medha Patkar is our next target. ..We have prepared some women...Since she is a woman, we can be hauled up for beating a woman).

Inder Verma, another man who took part in beating up Prashant Bhushan, told India TV reporter  at Nirula's Connaught Place, Delhi, on Oct 24  also confimed that their next targets were Medha Patkar and Anna Hazare.

Arun Upadhyay, a friend of Inder Verma, accompanying him during the sting said that they were given laptop and cellphone by a senior Shiv Sena leader after they bashed up Prashant Bhushan.

Arun Upadhyay said; "Abhi Balasaheb (Shiv Sena supremo) ne hamen Matoshree bulaya hai. Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena MP) hamare mitra hain. Balasaheb ko Anna aur unki team se pareshani hai."  (Balasaheb has invited us to Matoshree for a meeting. Sanjay raut is our friend. Balasaheb has problems with Anna and his team)

Tejinderpal Singh Bagga, the third man who took part in bashing up Prashatn Bhushan, met India TV undercover reporters in his house in Vishnu Garden, Tilak Nagar, Delhi.

Bagga said, he had two persons - Medha Patkar and social activist Sandip Pandey - as his targets. He admitted he was in BJP one and a half years back.

Bagga said, VHP leader Acharya Dharmendra and several other leaders rang him up and thanked him for bashing up Prashant Bhushan.  "Khush toh saare hain, lekin saare yahi chahte hain ki hamaaari jaan na phans jaaye" (All of them are happy, but they also want their names should not be involved)

Bagga revealed how he had planned to gather nearly 50 persons to bash up Prashatn Bhushan on October 1 itself, but it was called off at the last moment.

Sonia ill, but raps Hazare campaign


Congress party president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday rapped social activist Anna Hazare without taking any names, in a speech read out on her behalf at Gauchar in the hilly Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.

She was to have come in person to inaugurate her party’s poll campaign, but could not do so due to fever. It would have been her first public rally after undergoing surgery in America some time earlier for an undisclosed ailment.

In her speech, she attacked Hazare’s group for making a lot of sound on a Lok Pal legislation when the government had already publicly committed to bring an effective and strong Bill.
“Corruption cannot be eradicated by merely making speeches or by pointing a finger at others,” she said. "Everyone needs to look within... You cannot eradicate corruption like this, that one thinks corruption by us is a holy affair, while that by others amounts to corruption," she said in an obvious reference to Team Anna, some of whose members are facing allegations of financial misconduct.

Far from the conciliatory stand that Gandhi has had in the past regarding Hazare, her speech on Wednesday was combative. “The bill will be presented in Parliament and we will implement it. Then why this hue and cry?” she asked.

Putting on record the origin of the Lokpal bill, she said it was first broached by her and the National Advisory Council she heads. On rising prices, Gandhi said, “It is hitting the common man hard and the government must take steps that provide relief” but stressed that “it can happen only with the support of both the central and state governments”.

Besides addressing the rally, she had been scheduled to unveil the foundation stone of a 125-km Rishikesh-Karnaprayag rail line. She sent defence minister A K Antony as her representative. Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi was present

Team Anna holds 'referendum' in Sonia, Rahul constituencies


New Delhi:  In a renewed bid to project the Jan Lokpal Bill as a larger demand of the people, civil society activists led by anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare today presented a referendum conducted in various Lok Sabha constituencies across the country that showed that the majority of the electorate would vote out their MPs if the bill wasn't brought in the by the government.

The survey, held in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies, found an overwhelming 96.5 per cent of the people saying that they wouldn't re-elect their representatives if the latter did not support the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Standing Committee as well as in the Parliament.

In a significant message to the Congress, the activists - popularly known as Team Anna - said that an overwhelming majority of the the voters in the traditional Gandhi bastions of Rae Bareli and Amethi in Uttar Pradesh too batted for the Lokpal Bill.

"99% voters in Sonia Gandhi's Rae Bareli constituency believe that if she doesn't support Anna's Jan Lokpal Bill, then they will not elect her as their MP again", Team Anna member Manish Sisodia said at a press conference while announcing the results of the referendum.

The results of the referendum were much the same for the Congress President's son, Rahul Gandhi. 98% of the voters in Amethi, the Congress General Secretary's constituency, would not vote for him if the Bill wasn't passed, the referendum said.

But it wasn't just the Congress alone that found a mention in the referendum. Senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh, according to the results, would not find favour with 94.4% of the people in his constituency in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh if he didn't back the bill. Similarly, 92% of the electorate wouldn't vote back Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav if he failed to support the Jan Lokpal Bill.

The referendum assumes significance in that it comes just ahead of the Winter session of the Parliament which will be keenly watched over whether the government makes good its promise on introducing the Lokpal Bill in the right earnest. The results of the survey are also crucial as several of the Lok Sabha constituencies surveyed - including the ones held by the Gandhis - are in UP, a state that is gearing up for polls early next year. With the Congress being handed out a severe drubbing in the recent by-poll in Hisar in Haryana after a high-voltage campaign against it by Anna and Co., the referendum would clearly not be taken lightly by the party.

The fresh referendum comes on the back of a similar exercise that was carried out by Team Anna in Union Minister Kapil Sibal's constituency Chandni Chowk in Delhi. The civil society activists had, at the time, doled out similar figures, thus demanding the introduction of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Mr Sibal as well as the government had dismissed the results, instead, asking Mr Hazare and his team to contest elections to prove their case.

As Team Anna was announcing the results of the referendum, reports of a rift in the camp were also making headlines. Prominent activist Kiran Bedi today hit back at her comrade in the anti-graft campaign, Arvind Kejriwal, for having said that the former shouldn't have inflated her travel bills. The former top cop said that Mr Kejriwal didn't understand the issue.

The recent controversy over the inflated bills had dented Anna Hazare's campaign in a major way with allegations of corruption within his team. Ms Bedi was accused of flying Economy when organisers of the events that she attended provided her with Business Class tickets. She defended herself by saying that she was entitled to her choice while flying and had given away the balance amount to her NGO. She had later promised to return the balance amount to the organisers.

Anna Hazare not a poll factor: Prithviraj Chavan


MUMBAI: Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday said anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare would not have a big impact on the elections to the various urban local bodies in the state.

Most of the civic polls in the state will take place between December this year and March next year. The BMC election will be held in February.

Speaking to a select group of mediapersons, Chavan said, "While corruption and price rise will be factors, concerns over these have existed even before Hazare started his Lokpal movement." He said Lokpal alone will not weed out corruption. "There is a need for a grand architecture against corruption," he said. Chavan also disapproved of the use of emotive issues like the Marathi versus North Indian debate as a poll plank.

Not happy to file plaint against Lavasa Chavan said he was not happy to file a criminal complaint against Lavasa Corporation but did so following a court directive. He had requested the Centre to grant environmental clearance to the projects only after fulfillment of all conditions prescribed by the Centre. Chavan admitted that adequate attention was not paid to environmental clearance while approving certain projects in the past.

Tried hard to get Maruti plant

The CM said the state was in touch with Maruti for setting up a plant in the state. Maruti, however, chose Mundhra in Gujarat, citing better port connectivity. Chavan admitted to delays in development of small ports in the state, while dispelling the belief that businesses were shifting out of Maharashtra. "The state remains a leader in investment and industrialization," he said, while insisting on maintaining quality of investment to retain edge over other states.

New formula for Navi Mumbai airport?

Admitting that acquisition of land was a challenge for projects like the Navi Mumbai international airport and Mihan, Chavan hinted at a new formula for project-affected people in the Navi Mumbai project. He said that the option of permitting PAPs a regular share from profits was under consideration.

On a year as coalition head

Counting initiatives to bring in fiscal discipline and transparency in administration, Chavan downplayed the criticism meted out on delays in decision-making by claiming that his government had focused on complicated policy changes, which had been pending. Admitting to challenges in running a coalition, he controversially remarked that some ministers ran departments as if they were owners. Coordination at times got difficult but such things are present in all coalitions, he said. He, however, refused to drop any names.

Team Anna using Hazare for political ambitions: Parulekar


After claiming that Anna Hazare's key aides were "fascists and undemocratic", his former blogger Raju Parulekar on Wednesday alleged that Arvind Kejriwal and others were using the activist to further their political ambitions. "Anna Hazare has no political motives. Kejriwal, (Shanti and Prashant) Bhushans, (Kiran) Bedi, Manish Sisodia and Kejriwal's employee team are using Anna's moral power for their political ambitions," he posted on Twitter.

Parulekar, who fell out with Hazare after the activist distanced himself from his claim on restructuring the core committee, had earlier claimed that the Gandhian wanted to remove "undemocratic and fascist" Kejriwal, Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and "their pawns" from his core team.

The Pune-based journalist said he will soon come out with the conspiracy which led to his estrangement with Hazare.

Parulekar had earlier told reporters that Hazare wanted to reorganise his team and wanted to form a pan-India organisation, a claim denied by the activist who said he never spoke to him about this.

In turn, Parulekar made public an unpublished letter which was kept under wraps to blunt the anti-graft crusader's claim that he had not spoken to him about reorganising his core team.

Anna Hazare slams Chavan, says fighting elections not enough


RALEGAN SIDDHI: Anna Hazare  has taken exception to Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan's remarks that his team should come out in the open on joining politics, asking him whether only those who fight elections can speak against corruption.

"Now it is being said that Anna should fight elections. Does it mean that if somebody is speaking against corruption, he has to fight elections? If so, then 120 crore people in the country should stand for elections and they can speak against corruption only after that," he said.

He said politicians have fought elections but nobody has done anything to put a brake on corruption. "In the past 62 years, you have not brought a law that can fight corruption," he said.

His remarks came as a response to Chavan's remarks that it was "amply clear" that Hazare's associates want to join politics and asked them to be open about it.

"If you want to take part in politics, you must join it; politics will be enriched. It is now amply clear that his associates want to join politics," Chavan said.

"A clear stance should be taken, whether to contest elections or to support (someone) in elections. But, there is no point in taking a negative stance, that if the (Jan Lokpal) bill is not passed, I will oppose ( Congress)," he said.

Maharashtra ready to adopt Anna Hazare’s Lok Ayukta


The state government has decided to bring the new Lok Ayukta bill, as recommended by social activist Anna Hazare, during the winter session which starts in the second week of December.

Chief secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad has been entrusted the task of consulting senior officials to study the proposals recommended by Team Anna which could be incorporated for an independent and effective functioning of the Lok Ayukta.

Team Anna had lauded the Uttarakhand government's move to pass the Lok Ayukta Act, a copy of which has been given to Maharashtra. The state has also acquired the Karnataka model to study.

"Lok Ayukta already exists in Maharashtra. But its functioning is not effective as it is under the government's control," a Mantralaya official.

Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar took the initiative in providing more powers to Lok Ayukta. He has assured Hazare that the government will evolve an effective and independent Act through major reforms to tackle the rampant corruption in the administration.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan supported the campaign against corruption. "We are striving to bring transparency in the government's functioning through administrative measures and eradicate corrupt practices," he said.

Some of the significant aspects which the state is looking to incorporate from the Uttarakhand model is empowering Lok Ayukta. To begin with, the state will have to give its nod for bringing the chief minister under the Lok Ayukta bill —Uttarakhand and Karnataka have agreed to this. However, the Centre is under pressure from various states not to bring chief ministers under the Lok Ayukta.

The Lokayukta will function independently. It can inquire suo moto or on a complaint against a public servant and also conduct inquiries. To minimise government control, it has been suggested that the chairman and members of the Lokayukta be appointed by the governor as per recommendation of a selection committee.
The panel’s chairman shall be a person of impeccable integrity and a person of eminence in public life with extraordinary ability and outstanding knowledge of law and judiciary. As per the Uttarakhand Act, the state will have to sanction powers for defining the quantum of punishment if the public servant facing probe into corruption is found guilty. The punishment will not be less than six months and could extend up to 10 years.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Ajay Devgn meets Anna


Despite the felicitation event in Pune being cancelled due to security reasons, the actor made sure that he met the social activist before the latter left for New Delhi

Ajay Devgn was taken aback when the felicitation ceremony in Pune was cancelled due to security reasons. However, the actor, who was supposed to be felicitated by Anna Hazare at the event, made sure that he at least met the activist before he leaves for Delhi. Devgn caught up with Anna at the airport on the latter's way back.

A source informed Mumbai Mirror, "The Pune police wanted to felicitate Ajay Devgn for his role of a honest Marathi cop in Singham. Anna Hazare was flying down to Pune especially for the event. But while the organisers expected around three thousand people, over ten thousand turned up. In no time, the event became extremely chaotic. Entering the venue became impossible."

"Ajay, who was travelling with Rohit Shetty and his business manager Kumar Mangat left without entering the venue. So did Anna Hazare. But Ajay wanted to meet Anna. When he learnt that Anna was heading towards the airport, Ajay rushed there and met up with the activist," added the source.

When contacted, Kumar Mangat, confirmed the news and added, "We were very excited about meeting Anna. However, since we could not reach the venue, we decide to meet him at the airport. It was a very nice evening. Ajay was extremely happy to have finally met him."

Arvind Kejriwal not letting me meet Anna Hazare, says Rakhi Sawant


We are all aware of the lengths Rakhi Sawant can go to gain publicity. She is now using Anna Hazare's name to publicise her upcoming film Loot, in which she has done an item number.
She was quoted telling a radio channel that she is impressed with Anna Hazare and wants to join his campaign against corruption.

"I want to meet Anna Hazare but Arvind Kejriwal is not allowing the meeting to take place," Rakhi told Mail Today . "I don't know what his problem is but I think he feels threatened that I might influence Anna ji to listen to my plight. Who knows if he simply might get impressed," Rakhi said.

Rakhi claimed her statement is being blown out of proportion. "I have no intention of joining his campaign. Though I am way too impressed with him and his work," Rakhi said with reference to her controversial and raunchy item song Jawani Ki Bank Loot Le..., for which the Censor Board has raised objections and beeped out the word Choos le...

"I think it was really unfair on the part of the Censor Board to object to the lyrics as there are several songs such as DK Bose from Delhi Belly, which have obscene lyrics, but, those are passed uncut or unaltered by the Board," Rakhi said.

"This was the reason why I wanted to approach Anna and voice my anguish. I seriously believe that by beeping the lyrics, the board is depriving the public of a beautiful song. This is a discrimination against me and the song, just because I'm an easy target. But, I don't wish to unnecessarily drag Anna ji into the matter," she added.

Just for the record, the lyrics of the song in question is: "Main russ malaai hoon, jannat se aayee hoon, saamne padosi hoon, aake choos le... hey... saiyaan jawani ki bank loot le."

Not very long ago, she had tried to create waves by stating that she wanted to marry Yoga guru Baba Ramdev. "I find him very hot and would want to get married to him," she had said.

She had also wanted to marry Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. She was quoted saying: "I want to get married to someone like Rahul Gandhi or Anil Ambani or someone of that stature. If Shilpa Shetty can get herself a well settled, hot-shot guy like Raj (Kundra), then I have a bigger chance as I have done more item numbers than her."


Panel probing May breakdown goes easy on Spanco


NAGPUR: Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray maybe sparring with anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare but the effect of his campaign is clear on the party. Deputy mayor and district party chief Shekhar Sawarbandhe said the party will give preference to candidates who are honest and have no criminal background for the NMC elections. Sawarbandhe, who himself has a post graduate degree, said that this time candidates must at least be a tenth class pass.

Sena has started preparations for civic polls. "Collective leadership and alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party will steer us to victory in civic election. A team of state unit recently visited the city and finalised the action plan for the polls. The party has started accepting forms from candidates," Sawarbandhe told TOI.

The ruling BJP-Shiv Sena are busy planning strategy and as is the Congress that has already held several meetings in the presence of state ministers and leaders in the city.

"We have a started mass communication programme. Our corporators and party leaders are working at ward levels to strengthen the network. There is no leadership crisis in the party. We are united and committed to retain power in NAGPUR municipal corporation," Sawarbandhe said.

In last civic polls, Sena had won from eight seats though it contest from 12. This time, the party is eyeing more seats, claimed the deputy mayor. The party has a strong base and committed voters in Nagpur, he said. "The response to the gatherings reflected the feelings of the masses. We are encouraged by the support and will continue our work ahead of the polls," he said.

The Congress and NCP's performance in both state and Centre has been dismal and the BJP-Shiv Sena has gained strength in city. The recent fuel hike will also help the alliance win votes, he added.

Interested candidates can collect the forms from the party office near Reshimbagh from 7 pm to 9 pm, he said, adding they will be accepted till November 15.

Advani says he’s on same track with Anna, but feels country’s legal system is adequate


Pune, Nov 4 : Stating that even though he supported veteran activist Anna Hazare’s fight for a strong Jan Lokpal Bill, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani on Friday said that he did not think that the country’s legal system lacked laws to fight graft.

“I do not believe that corruption in the country is because of inadequacy of laws. I do not subscribe to this view basically,” Advani told the media here.

“Despite what is said, that the Lokpal Bill is not there, how many ministers have gone to jail for the first time? I do not subscribe to this view, though I have always said, even to my colleagues, that Anna Hazare has focused on the Jan Lokpal Bill, it is fine, because it is a campaign against corruption,” he added.

Advani further said that his party’s focus in the ensuing Winter Session of Parliament would be on inflation, corruption and black money.

“The focus of the winter session would be on this issue of black money, apart from wanting to know how the government is bringing relief to the common man, particularly the poor, who are very badly affected by food inflation,” he added.

He further said that they would also like to know what measures are being taken by the government to effectively curb the rising food inflation, the brunt of which is being borne by the poor.

Asserting that high food inflation was causing agony to the poor, he hoped that most of the opposition parties will also support them in Parliament.

Earlier, Advani has said the Congress-led UPA government has disgraced the democratic structure of the country.

Advani said: “In the last 15 years India’s name was started to be taken respectfully around the world. It was being said that India could not sustain democracy as it didn”t have literate people. But India proved them wrong and sustained the largest democracy in the world. People used to say, that India is a vibrant, vigorous democracy. But now in these days, our democracy has been disgraced by this government”dvani also said that the Congress party and the government is no less responsible for the corruption cases that have come to the light recently.You can’t try to make one of your alliance partners as scapegoat for all the corruption that is going on in the government because in most cases the Congress party and the government as a whole is no less responsible then any of the alliance partners. I have no sympathy for any alliance partner. I have no sympathy for anyone who indulges in corruption,” he added.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Irom's fight completes 11 yrs, continues


As Anna Hazare gave his anti-corruption campaign a fresh boost by breaking his 19-day ‘maun vrat’ in Delhi, another campaign in a faraway corner of the country quietly reached an important milestone. Irom Sharmila, the ‘Iron Lady’ of Manipur, has completed 11 years of her hunger strike against the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Sharmila: On fast for repeal of the AFSPA since November 5, 2000.


Sharmila, also known as ‘menghoubi’ (the fair one), hasn’t ingested food or water all these years and is force-fed through a nasal tube.

On Friday, she was produced before a district court here for further remand of 15 days, a fortnightly ritual, before returning to a special ward at the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences.
“I will continue the struggle. It is up to the authorities to listen to the demand or ignore it,” she said.

Hunger strike is seen as an attempt to commit suicide, which is a punishable offence. So, the state has to arrest her, only to release her after a year, as per law.

A support group, Save Democracy Repeal AFSPA, has organised nation-wide demonstrations, including a day-long fast, on Saturday.

On November 2, 2000, an Assam Rifles battalion killed 10 civilians in a village near Imphal. Three days later, Sharmila embarked on her fast, demanding revocation of the Act.

Anna Hazare praises Uttarakhand CM, slams Gujarat


The passage of the Lok Ayukta Bill in Uttarakhand today earned Chief Minister BC Khanduri praise from Anna Hazare, who urged the Centre and other states to follow suit, even as he slammed BJP government in Gujarat for not enacting a similar measure.

"The Lok Ayukta Bill passed by the Uttarakhand assembly and its Chief Minister BC Khanduri is big thing for the country.... Very soon you will see its effect when this law reaches the villages and people will start to feel its powers," Hazare said after meeting Khanduri here.

In reply to a poser on whether he was supporting BJP, Hazare said, "Even Gujarat is a BJP ruled state. But it is not implementing the Lok Ayukta Bill for the past so many years. It is not easy to make such law and it requires a concerted effort of everyone which requires a strong leadership."

Praising Khanduri, he said the country is governed by the rule of law and its system is based on justice.

"We have chosen the top-most people here to make strong laws, and I think this work done by Khanduri is very important as it can show a new path to the entire nation."

He said the Centre and other states should also follow Uttarakhand's example.

Appearing before a Parliamentary Committee yesterday, Team Anna had demanded that the government version of the Lokpal Bill should follow the Uttarakhand model.

"I feel assured that Uttarakhand will become the headmaster for the entire nation for this law," he said.

Hazare said he was not praising any particular party but a person who has worked for the passage of the Lok Ayukta Bill.

Asked if UPA passes the Lokpal Bill in the Winter Session of Parliament, he said, "We will definitely support them. Whosoever works for the betterment of the country, we would respect them. I will surely visit Uttarakhand."

Khanduri said Hazare has been his "inspiration" for the passage of the bill.

The Uttarakhand Lok Ayukta Bill brings under its purview the chief minister, ministers and government servants, including IAS and IPS officers, and with a provision for punishment extending up to life imprisonment.

Anna Hazare's crusade has aroused awareness against graft: Arun Jaitley


DEHRADUN: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley has said that the movement launched by veteran social activist Anna Hazare against corruption and nepotism in public life has aroused mass awareness.

"Every organisation has its rights. They can either support someone or not. But not going into facts, we believe awareness that the movement has created against corruption and those who indulge in corruption, we support that and from that angle consider it as a mass movement of the nation," Jaitley told the media here.

Applauding the Lokpal Bill passed by the Uttarakhand Government, Jaitley said such a body would enable the system to effectively investigate and punish those indulging in corruption.

"This unbiased and strong Lokpal, which can investigate and prosecute corrupt individuals, that spirit has been adapted under this law formed by the Uttarakhand government and the state legislature. The same spirit should be observed in other states and in the federal government," added Jaitley.

The Uttarakhand Lokpal Bill would now be sent to governor Margaret Alva for her assent and, after that, it will be implemented in the state within 180 days.

Politicians more concerned than Anna: Lalu


New Delhi: Dismissing Anna Hazare's "threats" on Lokpal issue, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad on Friday said that politicians were more serious on the issue of tackling corruption than Team Anna.
"We are more serious on corruption than Team Anna. We have come out from the anti-corruption agitation of Jayaprakash Narayan. We are committed to eradicate corruption but no one should be partial.

"Corruption at levels in media corporate, NGOs or real estate sector should be looked into by the Lokpal. Disproportionate properties of individuals should be taken over by states and redistributed," Prasad told reporters after meeting Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan also accompanied him.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Friday said that politicians were more serious
 on the issue of tackling corruption.


On the issue of black money, the RJD leader said it would not be unearthed by making new laws. "For this, a movement is required," he said.

Paswan demanded immediate implementation of recommendations of Rangnath Mishra Commission report for improving the lot of minorities and a commission for judicial services on the lines of those for civil and police services in the country.

Media needs to sensitise itself: Soni


NEW DELHI: Government has no plans to curb the freedom of press but wants the self-regulatory system for electronic media to work with greater sensitivity to avoid "media trials" and "vilification of individuals".

Making this clear, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said self-regulation was the "advanced way" of "dealing with situations" and an "ideal solution" to have in place.

"My directions from the government are -- strengthen, encourage self-regulation with greater sensitivity keeping in mind the viewers," she told PTI in an interview when she was asked whether there were any moves afoot to put curbs on media freedom as apprehended.

The apprehensions have arisen after the government recently announced guidelines under which renewal of licenses to TV channels after 10 years would be subject to their not violating any prescribed norms.

"I think the media needs to sensitise itself," she said. She said that even though self-regulatory mechanism was already in place, there had been issues where people felt that there were "media trials" and "vilification of individuals through media", sometimes damaging "reputation beyond repair".

Referring to the Anna Hazare campaign, she said that in its coverage "it was generally perceived that reporters became participants.

"I don't know if it was excitement of the atmosphere or something new which was seen by many people. But the way commentaries were made, the way the broadcasts were made, you all generated a hype which was larger than what I feel was."

Asked if self-regulatory mechanism should be still be given chance, Soni said "I have always spoken on that, that I would like self-regulatory system for electronic media to work with greater sensitivity. I insist on that.."

Team Anna reaches out to Indians in Japan


Mumbai: In an effort to reach out to NRIs, a core Team Anna member met Indians settled in Tokyo to increase awareness about the anti-corruption movement, said an organiser.

Team Anna's core committee member Kumar Viswas, who was in Tokyo, met activists on Wednesday and explained to them Hazare's thoughts and the role NRIs could play in spreading the movement as part of the 5th India Against Corruption awareness, Swapnali Puradkar said.

A core Team Anna member met Indians settled in Tokyo to
 increase awareness about the anti-corruption movement.


Hazare, 74, had started a vow of silence Oct 16 that he broke on Friday. He is leading a campaign against corruption and has threatened to launch a hunger strike if an anti-graft bill is not passed in the winter session of parliament beginning later this month.

"Viswas discussed how the Indian government is targeting each individual in Team Anna to damage their reputation and working hard to break the team," Puradkar said.

She added that his visit gave a big boost to the anti-graft and IAC movement in Japan.
Among other things, Viswas also discussed electoral reforms.

"India needs transformation, not revolution. We should fight against wrong thoughts/ideas and not against the people," said Puradkar quoting Viswas.

He also urged NRIs in Japan and other countries to actively use modern communication tools like Internet and social networking sites for such movements, participate in the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas and connect with local volunteer groups to fight corruption.

Puradkar said Viswas also asked NRIs to refrain from bribes and raise their voice if anybody demanded a bribe.

"He urged the NRIs to come out of the 'comfort zone' and work together to transform India into a prosperous and corruption free nation."

Anna Hazare losing his credibility: Digvijaya


New Delhi: Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Friday fired a fresh salvo at Team Anna saying Anna Hazare was losing his credibility with his conflicting utterances on the Lokpal issue and claimed his campaign against party in Uttar Pradesh would have "zero" impact.

"Anna is losing his credibility gradually by making such statements. One day he says that defeat Congress. The second day he says I am not against any party but against corrupt candidate. Next days he says, I am going to campaign against the Congress party. He should make up his mind first and think before he says something," Singh told reporters.

Digvijaya Singh said that Hazare should sit back silently and wait till the
 Winter session.

He was reacting to Hazare's declaration on Friday that he would campaign against Congress in five states where Assembly elections are due next year if the UPA government fails to get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed in the Winter Session of Parliament.

"It will have zero impact in UP," said Singh when asked how much Team Anna's campaign could affect Congress in the state.

He said that Hazare should sit back silently and wait till the Winter session, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, himself, had assured him to bring the bill in this session.

Singh also took a jibe at Arvind Kejriwal over his letter to the Prime Minister on returning his service dues and said the activist's efforts to seek "martyrdom" would not succeed.

"Kejriwal is presenting this matter in a way that injustice was meted out to him. He filled up the bond form, it was he, who did not fulfill its conditions....There is no question of any martyrdom in this, which he is unnecessarilty trying to create around. This halo will not last," Singh said.

I will campaign against UPA in 5 states: Anna


Changing his stand, Anna Hazare on Friday said he will campaign against Congress in the five poll-bound states if the UPA government fails to get the Jan Lokpal Bill passed in the Winter Session of Parliament.

"Let anybody say anything. I will campaign against those who did not bring the bill. I will go and campaign and say do not give vote to Congress if the Bill is not passed in the Winter Session of Parliament," he said addressing a press conference shortly after breaking his 19-day 'vow of silence' at Rajghat.

Hazare said if the Bill is not passed, he will fast for three days and then will go for a nation-wide tour.
Asked if he will campaign against BJP, he said he will not campaign for the party. "I won't campaign for BJP. There is no difference between Congress and BJP," he said.

However, Hazare praised Uttarakhand Chief Minister BC Khanduri for bringing a strong Lokayukta Bill and said he will honour the Chief Minister here for his "bold step".

On Monday, Hazare had blogged that he would campaign in the five poll-bound states if the bill was not passed but would not name any party.

Team Anna had come under attack for campaigning against the Congress during the Hissar Lok Sabha by-poll with critics saying they are indulging in politics though they were claiming to be campaigning against corruption.

Accusing the government of trying to "weaken" the Jan Lokpal Bill, Hazare said there was no need for bring separate bills on citizens charter as well as on whistle blowers.

"Government's intention is doubtful...The government is trying to weaken the Jan Lokpal Bill by cutting it into pieces. All these provisions were there in the Jan Lokpal Bill," he said.

On Team Anna's campaign against Congress in Hissar Lok Sabha bypoll, he said it was because of the campaign that Congress candidate lost his deposit in the election.

"We did not want to destabilise the government but wanted to send a strong message that till a strong Lokpal Bill is enacted, our agitation will continue," he said.

On restructuring of the core committee, Hazare said the committee will be reconstituted by giving representation to people from all religions, regions, castes and creeds and that people with integrity will be included in it.

On various allegations against some of the Team Anna members, he said, "There could be some drawback but that does not mean corruption."

Asked about his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh threatening to restart his agitation if the Jan Lokpal Bill was not passed, he said he just wanted to remind the government about the passage of Bill.