NEW DELHI: Team Anna on Sunday defended the black flag protest against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Amritsar saying it was a reflection of people’s demand for a strong Lokpal.
“Showing black flags is within the law. Hence it is a legitimate protest,” Team Anna member Kiran Bedi told PTI when asked whether she approved of the protest against the Prime Minister.
Singh was shown black flags by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare’s supporters as he came out of Golden Temple after offering prayers in the New Year.
Another Team Anna member Shazia Ilmi denied that the protesters were activists of India Against Corruption (IAC), which is spearheading the agitation demanding the enactment of a strong Lokpal law.
“I don’t think it was done at the behest of Team Anna but it is a reflection of what people feel and think. I guess this is the result of people’s mood as they want a stringent anti-corruption law and this is being not done,” Ms. Ilmi told a television channel.
Ilmi warned that other political parties may have to face such situations in future too as people are angry at the developments.
Hazare had last week called off all programmes against a “weak” Lokpal Bill and said he will campaign against the Congress in the elections to the five states in the next two months.
A meeting of Team Anna to chart the future course of action of the movement was to be held on Monday in Ralegan Siddhi but was cancelled as Mr. Hazare was hospitalised with chest congestion and other ailments.
Condemning the incident of showing of black flags to the Prime Minister, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh said "the whole episode seems to be the handiwork of disgruntled and frustrated Akali-BJP leadership which want to gain cheap publicity."
"It is not only unfortunate but highly condemnable that the holy place was used for the protest at the behest of Akalis who are struggling for survival as they face imminent defeat in the assembly poll," he said in a statement here.
"Some protesters, obviously Akali-BJP workers who hid themselves under the garb of devotees, have not only shown disrespect to a devout Sikh like Manmohan Singh but also violated the sacred sanctity of the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple)," Amarinder said.
He said the team Anna had already distanced itself from the protest "which means that it was stage-managed by the Akalis".