NEW DELHI, Aug 14 � Congress today upped the ante against Anna Hazare ahead of his planned fast on the Lokpal issue from Tuesday asking him to come clean on allegations of corruption, citing the Sawant Commission probe report.
The 74-year old anti-graft crusader on his part dared the ruling party to prove the charges or he will continue with the fast even if civil society�s version of Lokpal bill is cleared in Parliament, as Congress and Government on one side and Hazare and his team on the other launched a no holds barred attack against each other.
Congress spokesman Manish Tewary alleged that Justice P B Sawant Commission had ripped apart the �moral core� of Hazare as it �found him steeped in corruption from head to toe� and asked him to clarify its �serious findings� against him and his trusts before launching the agitation.
The Commission had probed corruption charges levelled by Hazare in 2003 against four ministers in the then Maharashtra government and also allegations of irregularities against Trusts run by him.
�I want the government to lodge an FIR against me and conduct an inquiry,� he said responding to the allegations of the Congress which had cited the report of Sawant Committee.
Addressing a press conference here, Hazare said he will not call off his proposed fast on Lokpal issue till his name is cleared or the charges are proved.
�Even if Jan Lokpal Bill (the version of civil society) is cleared in Parliament, I will not call off my indefinite fast, till the charges levelled against are proved or my name is cleared. Is this how people are maligned?� Hazare asked.
�Congress receives crores of rupees as donation from people. Where are the details? Who knows about it?� Hazare asked, as activist Arvind Kejriwal demanded that Congress make public its source of funding within 24 hours.
Sawant, whose probe found that an amount of Rs 2.2 lakhs was diverted from Hazare�s trust for his birthday celebrations, today said this action amounted to �corruption.�
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal rejected the Gandhian�s contention that it was crushing his Constitutional rights by not allowing his protest at a desired venue, saying the right to protest does not mean right to protest at the place of �your choice�.
Hazare said the Sawant Commission has not pointed fingers at him and instead named three of the four then ministers of Maharashtra against whom there were complaints.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also targeted Hazare asserting he was challenging the constitutional authority of Parliament, which is �not acceptable.�
Addressing a news conference in Delhi, Sibal and Union I and B Minister Ambika Soni slammed Hazare for his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday, saying the language used in the letter is not Gandhian from any point of view.
Asking if Anna can give a �guarantee� in writing that one instrument like Lokpal will end corruption, Soni said,� �people are being misled that corruption is out as soon as Lokpal is in.�
Reacting to Hazare�s allegation that the government was putting impediments in his proposed fast, Sibal said, �the right to protest does not mean right to protest at a place of your choice. There is no right to protest at place of your choice and convenience.
At his briefing, Tewari said, �The fast from August 16 has nothing to do with either the issue of corruption or the Lokpal bill. If that was the case Hazare would have first clarified the grave charges.
What is his clarification about the serious findings...The nation wants to know. I think Hazare and his associates will need to answer conclusions of Sawant Commission.� � PTI