Days after its much publicised agitation in Mumbai and Delhi fizzled out,Team Anna appears to be confused on how to take forward the fight for a strong Lokpal,saying the movement is at a “crossroads” and one wrong decision at this stage could prove disastrous for it.
Though it chose to bring BJP under the line of fire for admitting tainted politicians like Babu Singh Kushwaha to blunt criticism of being anti-Congress,it did not spare Congress either,claiming Anna Hazare felt cheated by the Prime Minister and the party’s seniormost leadership on the Lokpal issue.
With Hazare indisposed and calling off his agitation plans as well as his tour of five poll-bound states to campaign against Congress,it was prominent Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal who aired the team’s views in an article saying they were conscious that a wrong decision at this stage would harm the movement.
“The anti-corruption movement is at the crossroads today. Where do we go from here? We are conscious that a wrong decision at this stage could prove disastrous for the movement. I met Anna in hospital two days back,” he said.
Kejriwal’s views in public came a week after an ailing Hazare called off his Mumbai fast mid-way and future agitation plans,including jail bharo agitation.
On the advice of doctors,Hazare has also decided not to go ahead with the tour of five states to campaign against Congress for “cheating” people on the Lokpal issue.
He also sought to puncture allegations that they are anti-Congress by attacking BJP for admitting Kushwah,accused of corruption,into its fold saying how can they support a party which admits the likes of him.
“If we do not go for the tour of election-bound states,what should we do? Should Anna go for another fast? But the government has already indicated that if people participating in the movement don’t translate into votes,they don’t care,” Kejriwal said.
The poor public response to Hazare’s agitation in Mumbai and Delhi in the last week of December and taunts from the Congress and some other leaders appears to be weighing heavily on the minds of Team Anna.
“Some have suggested we should form our own party. But we neither have the will nor the capacity. This is a people’s movement. The movement was successful because thousands participated. The people should now suggest the way ahead,”
A Team Anna member said following Kejriwal’s article Team Anna has received around 1,000 emails from across the country giving suggestions.
Kejriwal said Hazare was “deeply” hurt and feeling “cheated” at the way the government treated the issue.
“If the Prime Minister and the seniormost leadership were to cheat the nation like this,where is the hope for our country? If Parliamentarians were to behave like the way some of them did,what is the future for our country ?” Kejriwal quoted Hazare as saying when he met the activist in a Pune hospital early this week.
Defending Team Anna’s attack on Congress,Kejriwal said Hazare was surprised when the Standing Committee submitted its report.
Out of 34 amendments suggested,the committee had accepted just one of providing Constitutional status to Lokpal and that was the first time when Hazare blamed Rahul Gandhi,he said.
“We were privately assured that the committee was not the final word and our concerns would be addressed in the bill. The bill that was presented in Parliament is not only weak and ineffective,it is dangerous and would further weaken our already compromised anti-corruption systems.
“…earlier,we were fighting for a strong Lokpal Bill. Today,we are fighting for stopping this one from being passed. This bill should be withdrawn and replaced with a completely different one,” Kejriwal said.
Admitting that they were in back-channel talks with the government in December,Kejriwal said,”in our last meeting,they almost challenged – ‘You can’t hurt us electorally. We will win. We will form the government and make laws. You carry on with your movement and fasts’.
“This means if any people’s movement can’t hurt them electorally,they don’t care. That’s dangerous. What should we do now? Should we campaign against Congress or UPA? Some people are objecting – why has this anti-corruption campaign turned anti-Congress ?
“My response is haven’t we been pushed to the corner? We are certainly not anti-Congress. Why should we be? All those who were looking for a hidden agenda have miserably failed,” he said.
Claiming that they were being accused of being pro-BJP,he said if they were anti-Congress,they would not be talking to them and engaging with them all this while.
“Some people have created an atmosphere in the country that if you are anti-Congress,you are pro-BJP. There is no middle space. If someone called us anti-Congress today,we could still accept that charge with some reservations as we have been pushed to the corner.
“There is absolutely no evidence of our being pro-BJP . In fact,the evidence indicates to the contrary. Due to the report of Justice Santosh Hegde,who happens to be one of our key core committee members ,the BJP CM of Karnataka had to resign. How could we support a party which admits the likes of Kushwaha in its folds?”