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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Team Anna split out in the open as accusations fly

New Delhi: The fissures in Team Anna are out in the open even as anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare and his associates are involved in an all-out war against the UPA government over the Lokpal Bill. Anna Hazare's fight against corruption started on a non-political platform, but his call to the Hisar electorate to not vote for the Congress party seems to have split his team with some members opening questioning the need to take a political stand.

Moreover, it is not only the political posture of Hazare and a part of Team Anna that seems to have upset some of his associates. The development comes even as Anna Hazara has not only cleared the air over his close associate senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan's continuance in his team after his controversial remarks calling for plebiscite in Kashmir Valley, but also said that he was willing to fight Pakistan.

Following Bhushan's comment, Hazare had also said that his continuation in Team Anna would be reconsidered following the controversial remark that also resulted in an attack on Bhushan by three people inside his chamber in the Supreme Court.

But the latest case of friction has come to the fore after the anti-Congress campaign carried out by Hazare and his close associates Arvind Kejriwal during the Hisar by-election.

Two Core Committee members PV Rajagopal and 'Waterman' Rajendra Singh have decided to disassociate themselves from the anti-corruption crusader's campaign alleging that the entire movement has turned political.
Even as Rajagopal said that the team was "putting pressure" on him not to quit, he pointed out that there are serious differences between Hazare and Bhushan.

Magsaysay Award winner Rajendra Singh told CNN-IBN that he was "never informed of the decision to campaign against the Congress". He also accused Kejriwal of being "undemocratic".

"I was working with Anna on several things like water management, land issues and other issue, but what has been taking place in last few days is wrong. I was called for a meeting on few occasions, but I am not in favour of party politics. Every movement is political in nature, but not party politics and that’s why I told them that I don’t want to be a member of a team which is involved in party politics," he said.

Singh's views were also echoed by another Hazare associate Professor HM Desarda who accused Kejriwal and another Team Anna member and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Kiran Bedi of using the anti-corruption crusader.

"My association with Anna Hazare is more then 25 years. Such a genuine cause has been hijacked by people for their narrow ambition. I wrote a letter to Anna and appealed to him that it would not be wise thing to confront entire Parliament process. Kiran Bedi and Kejriwal used to go to BJP leaders LK Advani and Sushma Swaraj and took instruction from the BJP. That's why I advise Anna that it would not be wise to be with Kiran Bedi," claimed Desarda.

Even former Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde, who was chosen by Anna Hazare as one of the civil society representatives in the Lokpal Bill Drafting Committee, has voiced his disapproval of the anti-Congress campaign by Team Anna in Hisar by-poll.

However, Kiran Bedi downplayed the news of Rajagopal and Singh distancing themselves from their anti-corruption campaign

"I have heard about it. They haven't told me why they are leaving. It is a voluntary group. These are all volunteers, we are all volunteers. Anyone can come and leave anytime," said Bedi.
She declined to accept that cracks were appearing within Team Anna and instead reiterated that the movement for a strong Lokpal would continue.

"Anna is a pivotal force. We are all bound to him. There are no cracks. People are coming around Anna. He is the architect of this movement. There will be differences of opinion, (but) the single unifier is the Jan Lokpal," she said.

Meanwhile, Hazare took another swipe at Bhushan over his controversial Kashmir plebiscite remark.
Writing in his blog on Tuesday Hazare said that he is even willing to fight against Pakistan for Kashmir as against those who merely talk. He pointed out that as an armyman, he had taken an active part in the India-Pakistan war and also survived a bullet injury. He added that Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so.

In his blog, he wrote, "This is my active conviction that Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so. Today once again if I have to, I am ready to take part in war against Pakistan. But some people can only speak and don't do anything on ground in reality for Kashmir and this is unfortunate."

The cracks in Team Anna first appeared during Hazare's indefinite fast at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi when his then associate Swami Agnivesh was heard talking on phone to someone called Kapilji, who was assumed to be Union Minister Kapil Sibal, and criticising Team Anna for its stubborn ways. The team dissociated with Agnivesh completely after the episode.

Now it seems that more than Anna versus the government, it appears to be like Team Anna versus its own members.


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