New Delhi: In a terse reply to Anna Hazare who accused her party of running a smear campaign against him, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday indicated her unhappiness with him for making his communication public and said she has already made her views 'clear'.

"I received your letter dated June 9, 2011. Since I was not in Delhi I could not reply to your letter. In the meantime, you have also made it public. I will get information in this regard. As far as the questions about the issues raised in the letter are concerned, I have already made my views clear in my letter dated April 19, 2011," Gandhi said.

Hazare had written the letter to Gandhi complaining against Congress media department head Janaradhan Dwivedi calling him an RSS-BJP "mask". The social activist had refuted
these allegations and challenged the Congress, through this letter, to prove their charge.

He had termed this a "conspiracy" of the Congress and the UPA ministers to defame him, so that he loses his support. He had informed Gandhi that he was hurt by these comments.

In her reply to Hazare, Gandhi has mentioned the April 19, 2011 letter to him in which she had made it clear that she does not support smear campaigns against anybody.

"As for statements appearing in the media, let me assure you that I do not support nor encourage the politics of smear campaigns," Gandhi had said in her earlier letter.

She had also said the Lokpal Bill is very much a part of the agenda of National Advisory Council, headed by her.

"I believe there is an urgent necessity to combat graft and corruption. You should have no doubt of my commitment in the fight for probity in public life. I strongly support the institution of a Lokpal that is consistent with the practices and conventions of our parliamentary democracy," Gandhi had said.

Digvijay criticises Civil Society members

On the current rift between the government and the Civil Society over the Lokpal Bill, Digvijay Singh said non-elected members of society can never be equated with elected representatives, but the former's views have to be kept in mind.

That is why Congress president Sonia Gandhi included members of the Civil Society in the National Advisory Council, he said, while speaking to reporters in Bhopal today.

Eminent people like Aruna Roy, Jean Dreze and Harsh Mander, who had been leading members of the Civil Society, were a part of the process of drafting of Lokpal Bill, he pointed out.

Singh said since the UPA government was sensitive to corruption, it also included people like Shanti Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal into the drafting committee, though they were known to be anti-Congress.

All party meet on Lokpal next month

An all party meeting to seek views across the political spectrum on the issue of inclusion
of the Prime Minister under the Lokpal Bill is likely to be held in the first week of next month.

Government sources indicated the meeting is expected to be convened soon after June 30 by which time the work of the Joint Committee to draft the bill will be over. The Committee has final meetings scheduled on Monday and the day after.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is expected to have consultations with senior party leaders and ministers ahead of the Joint Committee deliberations.

The Congress core group which met over the weekend had favoured an all party meeting against the backdrop of widening differences between the government and the Civil Society
representatives led by Anna Hazare.

The Hazare camp has been pitching for the inclusion of Prime Minister and the higher Judiciary in the proposed Lokpal Bill.

Senior ministers like Chidambaram and several top party leaders have been maintaining there was divergence of views on the Prime Minister's inclusion.

Reports have it that the UPA constituents too have divergent views. They say that since the Congress is leading the coalition it has to take everyone together. Another suggestion was that the PM could be brought in with specially carved exceptions or after he demits office.

Congress leaders have been maintaining in private that bringing the PM under the ambit of Lokpal is fraught with serious consequences and a decision in this regard needed to be taken keeping in mind a long-term view.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal has said while the government was opposed to the PM's inclusion under the Lokpal bill, it was open to the idea to cover him once he demits office.

Congress and the government are of the view that the Parliament is supreme and Anna Hazare and his team should not adopt the attitude of "my way or the highway".

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, whose party SAD is part of the NDA has expressed himself against bringing Prime Minister under the ambit of the Lokpal.

Congress has accused BJP of playing opportunistic politics by not revealing its mind on the key issue.

Chief ministers of Congress-ruled states have toed the Centre's line on the Lokpal bill opposing inclusion of the Prime Minister under its ambit while those from states where
BJP is in power have sought wider deliberations before a final view is taken.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is Chairman of the joint Lokpal bill drafting panel, had sent six questions on the proposed legislation to the chief ministers seeking their opinion on them.

JPN/Agencies