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Saturday, 12 November 2011

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.


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