'Sonia voters support us'

Lokpal Bill: Team Anna claims backing in Rae Bareli

The India Against Corruption, which runs the Anna Hazare led campaign against corruption, claimed that an overwhelming 96.5 per cent people in 14 Lok Sabha constituencies across the country told its volunteers during a referendum that they would not vote for their MPs again in the next election if they do not support the Jan Lokpal Bill within the parliamentary standing committee as well as in both Houses of Parliament.

The constituencies covered by the IAC’s referendum included the ones that in 2009 elected some of the members of the parliamentary standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice, like Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Manish Tiwari of the Congress and Kirti Azad of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The referendum also covered Rae Bareli and Amethi, respectively represented by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

The IAC claimed that 99.5 per cent of people in Rae Bareilly said they would not elect her back if she did not support the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Only 500 out of about 100,000 people stated they would still vote for her even if she did not support Team Anna’s version of the Bill. In Amethi, 98.3 per cent supported the Jan Lokpal Bill.

The Government introduced the Lokpal Bill in Parliament last August and it was subsequently referred to the standing committee, which is expected to submit its report during the coming winter session. The parliamentary panel is now studying the Government’s version of the Lokpal Bill and also examining the suggestions from Team Anna and other individuals and organizations representing the civil society.

Team Anna made public the results of the referendum at a time when differences between two members of its ‘core committee’ came to public domain.

A day after Kejriwal said that Bedi should not have inflated her air ticket bills, the former Indian Police Service officer hit back on Saturday saying he did not understand the issue. “The problem is that perhaps he does not understand the issue. Perhaps if Arvindji had a little more understanding of this issue, his answer would have been different,” said Bedi.

Kejriwal on Friday commented in a TV programme that Bedi should not have inflated her travel bills and he, himself, would not have done that.

The controversy haunted the former top-cop-turned-anti-corruption-activist ever since it came to light that she presented inflated bills to companies and institutions that hosted her. She first sought to justify her action and said that it was intended to make any personal gain, but to raise money for her NGO – India Vision Foundation. She, however, later said that the money collected thus would be returned.

Earlier, after Hazare and some of his aides campaigned against Congress in the by-poll at Hisar in Haryana, two prominent ‘core committee’ members of the social activists, P V Rajagopal and Rajinder Singh, had quit objecting to the movement taking a ‘political turn’. Another ‘core committee’ member Prashant Bhushan triggered a controversy by supporting demand for a plebiscite on the political status of Kashmir.

Swami Agnivesh, who had supported the movement during Hazare’s fast at Ramlila Maidan, later distanced himself and even accused Kejriwal of diverting funds collected for IAC to the latter’s own NGO.

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