Sunday, June 23, 2024

Team Anna in fresh controversy


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New Delhi: Team Anna plunged into yet another controversy on Thursday with allegations against Kiran Bedi that she over charged companies and institutions by inflating her travel expenses, evoking a strong attack from Congress and former colleagues in the anti-corruption campaign.

Allegations were levelled against Bedi, a key member of Team Anna, that she used her gallantry medal to get 75 per cent discount on Air India tickets and then submitted inflated invoices to claim full fare from the organisers who invite her to speak at various fora.

It was also alleged that she claimed business class fare even when she was travelling in economy class. Reacting to the allegations, Bedi told PTI, “business class travel is part of the invitation from the event organisers and corporates who ask me to speak. Travelling economy is a choice despite entitlement to ensure that savings remain with the NGO.

“(There is) no personal gain here. Sorry to disappoint detractors trying real hard to find a smoking gun. However, I accept this kind of coverage as a part of the challenges which being in public life poses,” she said adding the money “saved” went to NGO India Vision Foundation run by her.

However, her explanations have not carried conviction with her detractors. Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh termed the entire episode as a “very serious allegation” and insisted that Bedi should come clean on it.

Stepping the offensive against her, party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, “Bedi must first prove herself clean to the people before she fights against corruption…. It is very unfortunate that while, on one hand she fights against corruption, on the other she should be doing all this.”

Alvi said, “One colleague of Anna Hazare demands plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, the other says Anna is above Parliament and now the third one is found charging more money from her hosts than she actually paid on her airfare. All of them are now showing their true colours.”

Taking a dig at Bedi over allegations that she charged her hosts full fare on air tickets while availing discount, Law Minister Salman Khurshid said unlike Team Anna he cannot pass “ex-parte” judgements on people.

“I don’t find myself equipped or able to pronounce a judgement on anybody as quickly as is pronounced on many of us by the movement (led by Anna Hazare) in which Kiran Bedi has a very significant role…I don’t find myself in a position to pass ex parte judgements,” he said. (PTI)


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