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Gang of four behind smear campaign:Anna Hazare

New Delhi: Anna Hazare on Monday night defended his key associate Kiran Bedi from the allegations of "air travel corruption", pointing fingers at a "gang of four" in the ruling party being behind the campaign against his team.

Observing that to accuse and humiliate seemed to be the mantra of "the few", the anti-corruption crusader said they were afraid of a Jan Lokpal taking shape fearing that the legislation would strip them of power.

With his team members facing allegations of financial malfeasance, Hazare expressed these views in his latest blog posting `Rise and Fight against `Gang of Four`. The social activist however did not name the four persons whom he was referring to.

"To accuse and humiliate seems to be the mantra of the few. This is not the first time that such accusations have been levelled against Kiran Bedi. Every member of Team Anna had to face accusations and character assassination by the gang of four. Who are these people? Those are the very same people who are not in favour of Jan Lokpal Bill," he said. Recalling the formation of the Joint Committee to draft Lokpal Bill, he said these people did not want the Jan Lokpal bill passed.

Bedi, a former IPS officer, is under attack for overcharging organisations by inflating her travel bills though she claimed the money went to her NGO. She had offered to return the excess money collected from her hosts.

"I do not blame all the ministers from the Congress party or the Government as a whole. There are some righteous and committed people in the Government but they cannot raise their voice because of this `gang of four`," Hazare said.

Claiming that the number of Ministers who are opposing Jan Lokpal Bill in Cabinet was handful, he said it was similar to a village where there are "two to four goons" who hold the entire village to ransom. "In government there is a majority of people who are righteous but can`t go against these ruffians. Leaving aside these specific 4 to 6 people no one points a finger at us," he said.

He said those who are trying to create mischief will learn a lesson and this is the only opportunity we have in order to get a corruption free India, "now or never".

Hazare also sent out a stern warning over the Jan Lokpal issue. "If the Government goes back on its word and refrains from passing the Jan Lokpal Bill then it will have to face much more damage than they are facing now. But if a stringent Jan Lokpal Bill is passed then the government will be able to bounce back from the damage it has faced till now," he said.

Hazare said if need be he too will tour the country and campaign for the cause.

"If the law is not passed in the winter session then I will tour the five states where assembly elections are due to be held and then tour the rest of India during national elections.

"People should make it a point that they form a resolution on the Jan Lokpal Bill to be passed in Winter Session or else we will once again agitate and send it across through their village panchayat and Gramsabha to Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and to the President. From all over India 35 to 40 lac resolutions should reach the government."

Hazare claimed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Law Minister Salman Khurshid have given assurances regarding passage of a law in favour of Jan Lokpal Bill during the coming Winter Session of Parliament.

"This shows that righteous people are in majority as to gang of four who are `quite capable of pressurising` the government not to bring Jan Lokpal Bill and if need be might take help of the handful belonging to the opposition party," he said.

Regarding the allegations faced by Bedi, the Gandhian said the government should probe them as suggested by her and if found guilty should take stringent actions against her. "But the government doesn?t seem forthcoming in taking such a step," he said.

Hazare also made a reference to the allegations levelled against another key associate Arvind Kejriwal that he deposited the donations raised during his agitation in a trust run by the RTI activist which does not have members from Team Anna.

"Accusations were levelled against Arvind Kejriwal and he was attacked with slipper in one of his gatherings. Who was behind this act?" he asked. Hazare went on to say, "The only thought that keeps us going and binds us together is it does not matter if someone is trying to spread dissent in the Team Anna or maligning our reputation. Why do people stoop so such low level? They have their own reasons.

They are afraid if Jan Lokpal Bill is passed they will be stripped off their power. They will no longer be able to take bribe. Hence under any circumstances they will see to it that the Jan lokpal Bill as a law does not come in to existence. They will keep blaming Team Anna so they can go on doing corruption," Hazare said.

Referring to a series of allegations faced by Team Anna members, he said the "gang of four" was aware that their aim will not be fulfilled if they follow the legal path. "The only way out was to spread dissention in Team Anna thereby spreading misconceptions among people who will be dissuaded from participating in the movement," he said.

Hazare said the common man understands them and hence no matter how many aspersions are cast on his team people`s support will remain undeterred.

The social activist said he will be writing a letter to the Prime Minister for putting the draft of the Jan Lokpal bill to be passed to be put on the internet so that people can have a look at it and not limit it to the Joint Committee.

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