New Delhi: A key Team Anna member on Friday demanded suspension of the Core Committee and sought its expansion to make it more representative against the backdrop of the Congress leaders targeting it.

Kumar Vishwas shot off a letter to Hazare on the eve of Core Committee meeting, saying the leaders of the ruling party were targeting Hazare and each member of the Core Committee and trying to tarnish their public image and credibility.

"Such attacks and the subsequent clarifications will strengthen the conspiracy to divert the attention from the key issues...I request you to give greater representation to the Core Committee consisting of limited members and turn it into a hard-core committee comprising of 121 crore people.

"I once again urge you to suspend the present Core Committee and create a new system to enable us to see a corruption-free new India," Vishwas said in his two-page letter.

The letter comes a day before the crucial Core Committee meeting in Ghaziabad on Saturday, which is being held against the backdrop of a series of allegations against key members like Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi as well as resignation of two prominent activists Rajinder Singh and P V Rajagopal citing the political turn taken by Hazare's anti-corruption movement.

Vishwas, a college lecturer and poet, said the personal attacks on Core Committee members by "corrupt forces" were a proof that these people were trying to "neutralise and hurt" people actively involved in the campaign for a strong Lokpal.

Such attacks would not only affect the Jan Lokpal issue but also hurt the confidence of crores of Indians, he said.     
Vishwas told Hazare that the reaction of people have shown his strength when corrupt forces tried to defame him through allegations. "They understood that by attacking you, they cannot stop the movement for a Jan Lokpal," he said.

Asked whether the letter indicated a split in the Team, Vishwas replied in the negative. "There is no split in the team or it is not a strategy. This is just my suggestion to Hazare, who has a lot of experience," he said.

He said the Jan Lokpal bill should be in focus and suggested a reorganisation of the Core Committee in this regard. "Allegations will be fought individually and our focus should be Jan Lokpal Bill," he said, adding he did not want to derail the movement.

Hazare, Hegde, Patkar not to attend IAC meet

Meanwhile, several prominent members of India Against Corruption (IAC), including N Santosh Hegde, Medha Patkar and Anna Hazare himself, are expected to be absent from the organisation's crucial core committee meet here on Saturday.

The meeting comes in the wake of allegations of financial impropriety against IAC members Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi and the attack on another member Prashant Bhushan by rightwing activists over his comments suggesting a plebiscite on the Kashmir issue.  

Patkar told TV channels that she would not be attending the meeting, but hoped the committee would hold 'free and frank' deliberations on all issues.  

Hedge, a former Supreme Court judge, told reporters in Bangalore on Friday he would not be attending the meet as he had some personal engagements in Mumbai.

“I am not out of Team Anna, with a rider that my commitment to Team Anna is in regard to a strong Lokpal bill and fight against corruption. Beyond that, I am not with anybody,” Hegde was quoted as saying. 

He had criticised the political turn of the movement when Kejriwal led an anti-Congress campaign in the Lok Sabha by-poll to the Hisar seat recently. 

Hazare, who has undertaken a vow of silence in his village Ralegan Siddhi since Oct 16, will also not be attending, an aide had told the media in his native village Ralegan Siddhi.

“My health still does not permit me to give up my 'maun vrat'. There is still some swelling on my feet and the knee troubles me a lot,” Hazare wrote in his latest blog post on Thursday.  

(Agencies)