Faces from Chandigarh in the Anna divide

August 28th, 2011 - 5:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Anna Hazare Chandigarh, Aug 28 (IANS) Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign may not have a direct connect with Chandigarh but several of those who occupied centrestage during the movement’s 12-day standoff with the government and political establishment definitely do.

The private residences of the prime minister, the three union ministers and Tewari here were picketed by Anna supporters. Police and local authorities had to put up barricades, increase vigil and even prohibit the assembly of five or more people around these properties.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, union ministers Kapil Sibal, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Ambika Soni and Congress MP Manish Tewari are from Chandigarh.

From Team Anna, former police officer Kiran Bedi too has a Chandigarh connection. She not only studied here at the Panjab University but also returned briefly as Inspector General (IG) of police to the city over a decade ago.

While Manmohan Singh owns a house in Chandigarh’s upscale Sector 11, he had earlier been a student and later faculty member in the Department of Economics at the Panjab University here in the 1950s and 60s.

“Not many people knew that this house belonged to Manmohan Singh,” a neighbour told IANS. “But when the authorities clamped prohibitory orders, the protestors started coming here. This created some chaos in the area in recent days.”

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal - who played an active role in the developments in Parliament Saturday as Hazare’s three-point demand over a more inclusive Lokpal bill was debated in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha - is the Member of Parliament from Chandigarh.

His bungalow in Sector 28 faced the maximum number protests - from candle-light marches to painting sessions by children. The police was forced to barricade the road near his house and kept their vigil visibly high in the last fortnight.

Lok Sabha opposition leader and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Sushma Swaraj studied in the Panjab University’s Department of Laws. In fact, she and Bansal were there at the same time in 1970s. Swaraj supported Anna’s demands on her party’s behalf in Parliament Saturday.

Union Human Resource Development (HRD) and Telecom minister Kapil Sibal, whom Anna supporters blamed for taking a hardline stand on Hazare’s demands, has his family living in the upscale Sector 5 here.

Mostly, Chandigarh residents are angry with Congress MP and national spokesman Manish Tewari, who has a house in Sector 19 and has studied in Chandigarh, for his recent attack on the character on Anna Hazare.

Tewari had accused Anna of being involved in corruption from “head to toe” and being an Army deserter. The public backlash to the comments forced Tewari to apologize somewhat sheepishly later.

“(Kapil) Sibal and (Manish) Tewari had the most negative role to play in the so-called government and Congress party’s dirty campaign to run down Anna’s crusade,” entrepreneur Brajesh Singh told IANS. “Tewari should be ashamed of his demeaning personal comments on Hazare. People in Ludhiana (from where Tewari is an MP) should never elect him again.”

Even the bungalow of Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, in the upscale Sector 9, saw protests. She had been part of a group of ministers, including home minister P Chidambaram and law minister Salman Khurshid, who had earlier justified Hazare’s arrest by the Delhi police.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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