Team Anna on Saturday clubbed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee with 13 other Cabinet ministers, accusing them of corruption.
The anti-graft group, which threatened to launch an indefinite fast from July 25, has picked up portions of a draft Comptroller and Auditor General report to make charges against Singh when he headed the Coal Ministry. It is the first time that social activist Anna Hazare’s team has made direct allegations against the prime minister.
Besides Singh and Mukherjee, the ministers against whom Team Anna demanded probes by an independent Special Investigation Team include P. Chidambaram, Sharad Pawar, S.M. Krishna, Kamal Nath, Praful Patel, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Virbhadra Singh, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, G.K. Vasan, Farooq Abdullah, M. Alagiri and Sushil Kumar Shinde.
The Congress dismissed the charges as "unsubstantiated averments" that don’t require a response.
Dismissing the allegations leveled by Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan and Kiran Bedi at a press conference, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said, "I do not need to give an answer to unsubstantiated averments." He said this is not the first time such things have been said and answered.
Tiwari also referred to a report in a newspaper that Bedi had written to Hazare complaining against an NGO led by Kejriwal for improperly using funds. The team, some of whose members have been accused of financial misconduct, denied the report.
Hazare and his close aides sent a letter to Singh seeking the setting up of an independent Special Investigation Team with three retired judges as it members to probe the charges. They suggested that the government could select the judges from a panel of Justices Sudarshan Reddy, A.K. Ganguly, A.P. Shah, Kuldeep Singh, J.S. Verma and M.N. Venkatachellaiah.
In the letter, they said the SIT should investigate charges against the 15 "corrupt" ministers as well as those against party chiefs Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad and Jayalalithaa. They also said that the SIT can investigate charges against Team Anna.
"We will wait till July 24. If the government does not take steps to (set up SIT), we will go on an indefinite fast from July 25," Kejriwal told reporters