Allegations and counter-allegations flew thick as Team Anna’s ‘decisive fight against corruption’ started at Jantar Mantar here, and the countdown for the four-day-deadline set by Anna Hazare began on Wednesday.
Three members of Team Anna - Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai - started an indefinite hunger strike after paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.
Hazare gave the Centre an ultimatum, according to which he would join the hunger strike if the government did not budge by Sunday.
The team began its protest by targeting new President Pranab Mukherjee. “We will continue to raise allegations against him,” Kejriwal said as a photograph of Pranab covered with a cloth was kept symbolically at the protest venue.
The team said that the Congress has now managed to put a “chadar” (blanket) on the allegations against one of its leaders as the Constitution provides immunity to the President against prosecution.
“According to the Constitution, the President has immunity against any investigation. We have given evidence against Pranab to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi two months ago. But there was no probe, Kejriwal said addressing the gathering.
“In the name of the Constitution, now the government has masked the allegations against him. We condemn this,” he added.
The response to Hazare’s call for protest has been lukewarm compared to his earlier agitations last year when thousands of people rallied behind him.
Team Anna has been demanding a probe against 15 Cabinet Ministers, including Pranab, by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising retired Supreme Court and High Court judges. Now the demand is for probe against 14 ministers.
In response to the Team Anna’s demand, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid took a dig at the corruption crusaders and said, “They should write to the United Nations. In India, what can be more independent than the Supreme Court. They want independent probe into matters which have been rejected and disapproved by the Supreme Court.”
The other demands of the Team Anna are that the CBI cases against all presidents of political parties should be transferred to the SIT as the governments of the day uses the premier investigating agency to armtwist these leaders to toe their line in Parliament. The third demand is the ‘purification’ of Parliament by fast-tracking the criminal cases against over 200 MPs.