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Dr. Manmohan Singh today broke his silence and spoke to The Unreal Times about the reasons behind his Government’s baffling decision to arrest Anna Hazare. Here are excerpts:
The Unreal Times: Sir, What great national interest was served in arresting Anna and preventing him from peacefully protesting your Government’s dud bill?
Dr. Manmohan Singh: Such protests mar the image of the country globally. Just when the world is waking up to India’s economic potential, such incidents can scare away investors and hurt growth. Imagine the repercussions on India’s GDP if Anna and his supporters had been allowed to protest!! Growth could have reduced by 0.5%!!!
The Unreal Times: Hmm… doesn’t seem so obvious to us but then we are not trained economists. But legally, don’t you think arresting Anna ji under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPc was a stretch?
Dr. Manmohan Singh: Actually, we drew up a list of offenses we could possibly arrest him for. Manish Tiwari wanted to have him arrested under the Prevention of Corruption Act for misusing 2 lakh rupees of his charitable trust for a birthday party. But some of my cabinet colleagues felt a little embarrassed about the small sum involved. Digvijay of course wanted to arrest him for possible terror links since the RSS is supporting his campaign. In the end, we decided to detain him under CrPc Sections 151 and 107 for planning to mobilize more than 5000 people and causing potential law and order problems.
The Unreal Times: But Sir, Congress leaders including the Gandhis routinely mobilize in excess of 5000 people for various agitations and andolans! Shouldn’t they be arrested too, by the same yardstick?
Dr. Manmohan Singh: That’s entirely different. Those people assemble because they get treated to biryani and mithai by the Congress for attending these rallies. So they are, in a sense, professional agitators and there is very little scope for lawlessness. But Anna’s supporters are different… they are agitating from their heart and this can have law and order repercussions.
The Unreal Times: Did Madam countenance the move to arrest and detain Anna ji?
Dr. Manmohan Singh: Argh! let me enjoy my moment under the sun while my boss recovers, will you?? Why do you have to bring her into everything? She did try to mumble something over the phone but it sounded like Greek and Latin to me. More like Latin actually. I suspect it must have been fever induced delusion that led her to mumble in Latin. Anyway I told her I am on top of this and not to worry.
The Unreal Times: What about Rahul? Did he not have any views since he’s the boss now?
Dr. Manmohan Singh: He was a little confused initially. Kept wondering whether Anna is related to him since people keep calling [Anna] a Gandhian. I disabused him of that notion and later Digvijay also pointed out that Anna may be a RSS man and ought to be arrested for graver offenses. Rahul then wholeheartedly supported the Government’s move.