Congress changes tack, opts not to attack Hazare

August 19th, 2011 - 10:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) Facing flak over the government’s handling of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation, the Congress has opted to hold its fire and not make any personalised attack on the social activist.

“Personalised attack should not be made… We wish him (Anna Hazare) a long and healthy life,” a party leader told IANS.

The change in party’s stance came after its strong attack on Hazare Sunday in which it cited the Justice P.B. Sawant report and accused him of being corrupt “from head to toe”.

Even the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which had Sunday termed Hazare’s fast as “undemocratic”, changed its stance and said all it wanted was that the social activist should adhere to the conditions of police.

There is a feeling among sections of the party that the government erred in gauging the mood of people and could have handled the situation better.

They said the arrest of Hazare had provided the opposition an opportunity to lambast the government and rallied more people behind the activist than would have been possible otherwise.

Congress sources said the change in party stance not to make a personalised attack on Hazare till provoked came after party leader Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and some senior leaders Monday.

Officially, however, the party has put the onus for the controversial decision of arresting Hazare, sending him to Tihar and then releasing him within hours, on Delhi Police.

“These are matters relating to Delhi Police,” Congress spokesman Raashid Alvi said.

However, he maintained that there was no need for Hazare to go on an agitation.

“The government fulfilled its promise to bring a Lokpal Bill in parliament. The bill is before the standing committee. Anna Hazare also gave his views before the standing committee. The parliament will decide on the bill,” Alvi said, adding that Hazare can go before the panel again.

Alvi said the agitation did not appear to be entirely spontaneous.

“So many people are getting food, flags… How is it possible without backing of an organisation,” Alvi said.

The spokesperson denied he had said that the US was behind the agitation.

Alvi said he had referred to a US statement concerning Hazare’s protest and commented that the US had never made such remarks earlier.

Asked if the party was missing the counsel of party president Sonia Gandhi, who is recuperating abroad after a surgery, Alvi said he hoped she will return soon.

“We hope she will return at the earliest and assume her responsibilities,” he said.

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