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Friday, 4 November 2011

Without BJP support, Anna would have faced Ramdev-like action: Gadkari

Delhi:  Anna Hazare may have tried to distance himself from the BJP, but party president Nitin Gadkari has said that if the party had not supported Anna Hazare, the Gandhian and his movement may  have run into the sort of disaster confronted by yoga icon Baba Ramdev and his supporters. "We don't go anywhere uninvited," said Mr Gadkari, "but we will continue to support Anna because he is a good man and he has a good cause."   Mr Gadkari also said that he is not upset with Anna's comments against his party, and its parent organization, the RSS.

Anna, who is 74 and has emerged as the face of a national movement against corruption, has repeatedly been alleged to have covert links to the RSS. Anna has said that while his group of activists welcome support from any party that is committed to ending corruption, neither the BJP nor the RSS helped him organize his  epic  hunger strike in August in Delhi, which turned into one of the country's biggest and most-watched sit-ins.

In June, a similar protest camp organized by the hugely popular Baba Ramdev was broken up late at night by the Delhi Police, whose lathi-charge and actions are now being studied by the Supreme Court. The police said Baba Ramdev did not have the required clearances for the audience that he gathered, and that his camp was not meant to be a political one. The yoga icon says he was targeted by the government for taking a strong stand against it. Opposition parties and Anna's team have described the action against Baba Ramdev as a "murder of democracy."

Perhaps in an attempt to distance himself from accusations - largely from a section of the Congress - that he has the BJP in his corner, Anna has stressed that as far as he is concerned, the BJP's track record on graft is as muddied as any other party. Today, after ending a lengthy vow of silence or maun vrat, the Gandhian said again that between the Congress and the BJP, "one is a graduate of corruption, the other is a post-graduate."

However, Team Anna has heaped praise upon Uttarakhand - where the BJP is in power - for the Lokpal Bill it passed this week. The Bill - intended to check corruption among government servants - has been described as exemplary by Anna and his aides; they say the central government should use it as a model for the national Lokpal Bill. Named for the ombudsman agency it births, the Lokpal Bill is at the heart of Anna's movement. His group of activists believe it will help reduce systematic corruption. They've said that if the Congress does not have the bill passed during the winter session of parliament, they will campaign in different states headed for elections and urge voters not to support candidates from parties that have not shown their commitment to the Lokpal Bill.


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