Team Anna was thinking of contesting elections, Ashutosh reveals in book

Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal had parted ways in 2012 after having spearheaded the Jan Lokpal Andolan.

Written by Dipankar Ghose | New Delhi | Published: March 10, 2015 3:25:54 am

A book written by AAP leader and Delhi unit chief Ashutosh has revealed that “Team Anna” had “actually explored the possibility” of contesting elections at one point.

Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal had parted ways in 2012 after having spearheaded the Jan Lokpal Andolan, with Hazare saying that he did not want to enter electoral politics.

In his book, The Crown Prince, The Gladiator and The Hope, Ashutosh writes, “What few people know is that Team Anna had actually explored the possibility of contesting elections at one point, just before the Assembly elections for Himachal Pradesh were to be held in 2012.

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Manish Sisodia was sent to Himachal Pradesh thrice to study the situation there. He visited almost all the Assembly constituencies, spoke to volunteers of India Against Corruption, discussed the electoral possibilities with them and the logistics of forming an organisation, and even found volunteers at the booth level. I was told that Anna not only knew of this, but had also given his consent… he would rather act as a moral force and a torch-bearer for the party, while supporting all candidates who were clean, irrespective of the party they belonged to.”

The book also gives an insight into Kejriwal’s protest outside Rail Bhawan during his first tenure as Chief Minister — when he slept on the road in the aftermath of Somnath Bharti facing criticism for the  Khirki midnight raid on African nationals.

“Criticism poured in from all quarters. The strategy to divert attention from the Bharti episode to make the Delhi Police accountable to the elected government backfired badly. On the first day, the turnout of supporters was poor.

There were plans to massively mobilise crowds the next day. But the next day was even more disappointing, partly due to bad management and partly due to rains. By noon, the party leadership decided that it would be wise to find an honourable exit route… Eventually, we came to a mutual agreement that the Lt-Governor would make an appeal to Arvind to discontinue his dharna and would also send the erring policemen on leave. Arvind had been demanding suspension or transfer. The policemen were instead asked to go on a leave of absence… This was a climb down, but it opened a face-saving window… Sometimes a crisis is needed to enrich a novice’s experience to make him wiser, and even though Arvind — with his razor-sharp intellect — was no novice, perhaps there was something to be said for conventional wisdom’s decree that an agitator cannot be an administrator,” he wrote.

Ashutosh also chronicled the “crisis” within the AAP.

Writing of a time just after the declaration of Lok Sabha results, he says in his book, “Yogendra Yadav was also unhappy with the state of things… He hails from Haryana and was the party head there. The hope was that if the AAP fared well, he would be the main contender for the post of Haryana chief minister… He was deeply disappointed when the party secured a mere four per cent of the vote share in Haryana in the Lok Sabha polls… Yogendra mentioned the issue of the unilateralism displayed by Arvind and expressed his displeasure that these were serious matters which should be discussed by the party before making public declarations. In a most dramatic manner — during a political affairs committee meeting session while we were waiting for Yogendra to join us — Pankaj Gupta announced that Yogendra had shot off a letter to the members of the National Executive announcing his resignation from all party posts except the national executive.”

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