I told you my stand earlier, Sonia writes to Hazare (Lead)

June 19th, 2011 - 9:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) A day before a meeting of anti-graft Lokpal bill’s joint drafting panel, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Sunday replied to reformer Anna Hazare’s letter accusing her party of maligning his image and said that her stand on the issue had been stated earlier.

“As far as the questions raised by you in the letter, I have already clarified my stand in the previous letter dated April 19,” Gandhi said in a terse reply.

Gandhi wrote to Hazare April 19 saying that she was not in favour of smear campaigns, but did not offer any assurance on reining in her party colleagues from speaking on the Lokpal bill.

“I had received your letter on June 9, but as I was out of station, I could not reply. Meanwhile, you have made the letter public. I will get information in this regard,” she added.

Hazare wrote to Gandhi expressing displeasure over the Congress calling him the face of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

“I am very upset with such allegations made against me. This is a matter of deep concern for me,” Hazare said in his three-page letter.

Hazare complained against Congress media department head Janardan Dwivedi calling him an RSS-BJP “mask”. The social activist refuted the allegation and challenged the Congress, through this letter, to prove the charge.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh and other leaders criticised Hazare for his alleged closeness to the RSS and the BJP.

Hazare alleged this was a “conspiracy” to defame him.

Gandhi, in her April 19 letter, said that the Lokpal bill was very much a part of the agenda of the National Advisory Council, headed by her.

“I believe there is an urgent necessity to combat graft and corruption. You should have no doubt of my commitment in the fight for probity in public life. I strongly support the institution of a Lokpal that is consistent with the practices and conventions of our parliamentary democracy,” Gandhi had said.

The Lokpal bill joint drafting committee - which comprises five ministers and five representatives of the civil society including Hazare - is scheduled to have its final meetings Monday and Tuesday before submitting its draft to the union cabinet June 30.

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