Prime Minister Manmohan Singh isn’t known for giving a tongue lashing to his critics and detractors. But he did give Team Anna a mouthful last week. Traveling home from Burma, Singh saidof corruption charges leveled by supporters of social activist Anna Hazare that “If there is even an iota of truth in it, then I will give up my public career and the country can give me any punishment.”
But the claims have also caused discord within the ranks of Team Anna, with supporter Justice Santosh Hegde completely disassociating himself from the team’s charges of corruption against Singh. “I do not have the material that Team Anna has as I was not in the meeting (where the issue was discussed). Without studying the material against the Ministers, I don’t want to comment on it or associate myself with it,” he said, according to DNA India.
Hegde also reportedly disapproved of a certain word allegedly used by Team Anna associate Prashant Bhushan to assail Singh for failing to take action against corrupt ministers. “It’s not proper. You don’t use such words against the prime minister,” he explained.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Hours later, Bhushan denied making the comparison. “I did not call PM a ‘Shikhandi’…But when PM lets corruption flourish under his leadership, what is the point of personal honesty,” Bhushan remarked.
In response to a pointed question on whether Hazare had gone through the documents on which Team Anna had based its charges of corruption against the government, Bhushan said Hazare wasn’t aware of the “whole matter” regarding Singh, and that they will “apprise him about it.”
Bhushan reportedly explained that: “Most of these documents are in English and Anna can’t read the language. So these large numbers of documents have to be translated into Hindi to enable him to go through it. It is not possible to translate all these documents that fast so that he could read it. He knew the larger points like which minister has what charge against him and all. But on the Prime Minister, he did not know the whole matter. But he has full faith in us that we are doing the right thing, that the panel has vetted it.”
Interestingly, Hazare himself recently went on record as saying that the prime minister “is an honest man though some ministers in his cabinet are corrupt.”
However, Arvind Kejriwal, another prominent member of Team Anna, defended Bhushan and said Hazare knows about “all about the issues.” He said Team Anna was in regular contact with Hazare. “When he (Hazare) came to Delhi for the March 25 protest, he was briefed about the charges against each and every minister. We wrote letters to ministers regarding the allegations after the instruction from Anna,” Kejriwal explained.
Meanwhile, News Track India today reported that Hazare had reiterated the suggestion that Singh indirectly gained through the scam of coal block allocations worth billions of rupees.
“When I went through the papers regarding the coal scam, there is a connection with Coal Minister. After this as per the report of the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) on coal scam, this also is indirectly related with prime minister,” Hazare told media here.