Anna Hazare writes to Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi: Anna Hazare on Monday wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi on the "smear" campaign launched against civil society members of the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill and asked her to advise her "colleagues" not to try to derail the process of drafting of law.

In a two-page letter to Gandhi, he complained against a party General Secretary, apparently Digvijay Singh who has been attacking his campaign, of making many statements which were "factually wrong" and asked her whether she approved them.

He also refereed to an unnamed minister, who is part of the the ten-member joint committee on the bill, and charged him with making false statements that the civil society representatives have "succumbed" to government`s pressure and "diluted" the law.

As the war over the alleged fake CD involving eminent lawyer and panel co-chair Shanti Bhushan intensified, he said "the developments of the last few days have been a cause for concern.

"It seems that the corrupt forces in the country have united to derail the process of drafting an effective anti-corruption law through the joint committee. Together we have to defeat their designs," Hazare said.

He said one of their strategies is to "smear the reputations" of civil society members in the committee.

"Whereas I am of the view that the people working for public must be subjected to public scrutiny, however, when blatantly false accusations are made, fabricated CDs are planted, then one feels that the purpose is not an honest public scrutiny but to tarnish reputations.

"They have not even spared me, even though I have lived a simple life following on the path of truth. However, I am happy that despite all their efforts, the vested interests could not dig out anything of substance. This has only raised the reputations of civil society members in the eyes of public," he said.

The Gandhian said smear campaign of vested interests seemed to be back firing and people could see through what was happening.

He warned that the country was in "no mood" to wait any longer to have a strong anti-corruption law and expressed fears about the consequences if the process was "derailed" as people were "very agitated".

Hazare wondered what would be the outcome if the government nominees in the committee were subjected to "similar scrutiny or witch hunt".

"Those in power have much more to explain. However, we don`t want to divert the attention of the people from Lokpal Bill to individual mud-slinging, which seems to be the objective of the people behind this smear campaign," he said.

Government has on April eight agreed to form a joint committee to draft a strong Lokpal Bill following the fast- unto-death protest by Hazare, who along with four other members of the civil society were made members of the panel.

Hazare`s letter to Gandhi comes in the backdrop of the circulation of a CD purportedly containing conversations between eminent lawyer and panel co-chair Shanti Bhushan and political leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh on "managing" a judge in a case.

Referring to Digvijay Singh, the 73-year-old Gandhian said as party General Secretary, he has been making many statements in the media in the last one week.

"I assume that he has the support of the party to make such remarks. Most of these statements are factually wrong, which makes one believe whether his only intention is to create confusion, mislead people and derail the ongoing discussions in joint committee. Do you personally approve of his statements?" Hazare said.

He aslo alleged that one of the ministers, who addressed the media on Saturday after the joint committee meeting said it was "good".

But later, Hazare said, the minister held a "private informal debriefing session" at his house and "falsely accused" the civil society representatives of having succumbed to government`s pressure within the committee and that the civil society have diluted the law".

"This was completely false statement because there were no discussions at all on the law within the committee.

His informal debriefing created confusion in the minds of people across the country. It appears that this debriefing was meant to send a message to public that we have been influenced," he said.

Hazare said they had "apprehended such mischievous conduct" and that was the reason why they have been demanding video recordings of the proceedings and their release immediately after each meeting.

"India has suffered immensely due to corruption. This is a historic moment when the whole country seems to have come together to demand effective action against corruption. I would urge you to advise your colleagues not to try to derail the process of drafting the law," he said.