Law minister Salman Khurshid, who drew flak from the Team Anna for his alleged attempts to drive a wedge between Anna Hazare and his team members, says the social activist is being misled about the government’s intentions on the Lok Pal Bill. In an interview with Kavita Chowdhury, he speaks of what happened at his “secret meeting” with Hazare in Nashik on June 23. Edited excerpts:
What was the purpose of your meeting with Hazare?
Both of us met on neutral ground, and both Anna and me had the same purpose. My purpose was to tell the truth; his purpose was that the truth be implemented. I felt he was being misled about the government’s intentions on the Lok pal Bill and so, I met him to give him the accurate scenario.
What happened at the meeting?
I asked him (Hazare) what are you looking for in the Lokpal Bill? He said three things—civil servants to be brought under its ambit, setting up an effective Lok pal and Lokayuktas in the state and a citizen’s charter. I said all three things have been accepted by a resolution of Parliament. Anna said, then I have no differences. He also said, ‘Write to us and tell us it’s in the Bill’.
Hazare is now accusing you of trying to create a rift between him and his team members. He is also accusing you of trying to dissuade him from going on a fast.
Where is the question of me creating a rift? He did not inform any of his team members, not even Arvind (Kejriwal), about the meeting. I did not tell him not to. I did not even ask him to give up his fast. It was he who took out a letter and showed me; then he informed me, ‘I’m not going to fast on July 25 and I’m not going to go on a tour of India.’ He even said, ‘For the good of the country it is okay to even speak a lie’. Today, Anna is saying the government are liars.
I never lied or denied that I met him. What I do feel sad about is that I thought of Anna as a much bigger person. He’s badly being misled by his friends.
If the intentions of this meeting and its purpose were to bring about clarity and resolve any misundersta-ndings, why all this secrecy about it?
We certainly met in a degree of confidentiality. When the cabinet meets, we (ministers) don’t reveal what happened inside. Making public that we were going to meet could have jeopardised the whole purpose.
Why did you meet Hazare alone and not his team members ?
I don’t trust his team members. It’s apparent his team has a political agenda. He’s a captive of his team. Maybe if he was left alone, he would be different. It’s clear that he is being misguided.