New Delhi: Anna Hazare
is already planning his next move, with Team Anna having put up a
united front in the face of controversies surrounding some key
leaders, say his supporters. But political analysts say repairing
the damage to the anti-corruption movement will be easier said
The core committee of India Against Corruption (IAC) - the
umbrella organisation of the Anna movement - held a crucial
meeting in Ghaziabad Saturday after coming under attack from
within and outside. But it decided against disbanding the
committee and warned the government against targeting its leaders.
"Hazare is a strategist who can understand the ways of the
government and the political forces working against the movement.
He may take the next step in revamping the movement without
disowning the current leaders and giving an impression that he is
undertaking a cleansing act," an IAC leader told IANS, not wishing
to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media on
the group's functioning. .
Hazare, 74, who is on a "maun vrat" (vow of silence) since Oct 15
and was therefore absent from the meeting, Sunday met key team
members Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan at his
native Ralegan Siddhi village.
"He will utilise the interaction with Team Anna leaders Arvind
Kejriwal and Prashant Bushan to take stock of the organisational
set-up," the IAC leader said.
"Hazare is a veteran who will try to consolidate the gains of his
two fasts in New Delhi this year and continue his mission for a
strong Lokpal bill. He will use this phase of silence as an
occasion for introspection and plan his future course. His aim is
to be remembered as the leader who led the agitation for the
enactment of the Lokpal bill."
Bedi, a former top and one of those dogged by allegations of
financial impropriety, told IANS, "There are no cracks in the
movement. The popular support to the movement continues."
But political analysts disagree.
"The credibility of Team Anna has been deeply dented. The movement
is in a precarious situation and the leadership in disarray,"
Mridula Mukherjee, professor in New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru
University, told IANS.
Kerala-based political analyst B.R.P Bhaskar told IANS over phone:
"Allegations of financial misappropriation by Bedi and Kejriwal
have tarnished the image of the IAC to some extent. We have to see
whether Team Anna sorts out their problems."
Besides Hazare, other leaders like activist Medha Patkar and
former Supreme Court judge N. Santosh Hegde did not attend the
core committee meet and cited pre-fixed engagements as reasons for
Only 16 of the original 26 core members of IAC were present. Two
members - Gandhian activist P.V. Rajagopal and Magsaysay award
winner Rajendra Singh - have already resigned to protest the
politicisation of the movement.
As the leaders of the IAC allege that the "dirty tricks
department" of the government was working to tarnish the image of
the movement", ministers have been discreet.
"It (rift) is their internal affair. It is between them. Why
should we involve ourselves in it?" Law Minister Salman Khurshid
had told reporters when asked about divisions in the Team Anna.
While allegations of financial impropriety were levelled against
Kejriwal and Bedi, Prashant Bhushan was attacked by rightwing
activists for his suggestion for a plebiscite on the Kashmir
issue. Hazare himself criticised Bhushan for the statement.
Kejriwal, described as autocratic by Rajendra Singh, has said he
is ready to mend his ways.
As for the criticism that the movement had been politicised with
Kejriwal running an anti-Congress campaign in the recent Hisar Lok
Sabha seat by-poll, he said they would not have done it, if the
letter of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, assuring the tabling of
the Lokpal bill in the winter session of parliament, had come
But will these efforts by Team Anna leaders be enough?
"The IAC leaders don't have the depth, track record or the stamina
to lead a genuine movement, unlike our freedom fighters,"
Mukherjee said. "What is worrying me is the demoralisation likely
to set in from the floundering of the movement."
(George Joseph can be
contacted at george.j @ians.in)