New Delhi: In a blog that appears to have bewildered his closest aides, activist Anna Hazare has said that Team Anna stands dissolved. Three days after aides like Arvind Kejriwal and Anna ended their latest hunger strike, 75-year-old Anna writes that “The time for fasts has ended. It is time to give people a political alternative.” Sources say the announcement indicates that Anna will play a limited role in the political party to be launched by his associates.
Plans for that party were in fact made public by Mr Kejriwal and Anna on Friday, before they ended their latest fast against corruption. Anna said his aides would enter politics; he stressed he would not contest elections or be a member of the party, but would support it. Mr Kejriwal asked the public to help pick the party’s name and manifesto in preparation for the next general elections in 2014. Both voiced concerns about how to pick upright candidates, keep power from corrupting them if they were elected, and raising the substantial funds that campaigns are known to quickly devour.
So while Anna’s blog may be, to some, an elaboration of his comments on Friday, to many others, it signals that between the lines of his blogs is a discontent with his aides’ political interests. Looking distinctly unhappy, he told NDTV before heading to Pune this afternoon, “Team Anna’s job is over. We are separate now. They will form a party. I have nothing to do with it.”
“All members were kept in the loop on the decision to disband Team Anna,” claimed Aswathi Muralidharan, the media coordinator for India Against Corruption (IAC), the movement that was led by Anna for the last 18 months. But Team Anna member Kiran Bedi confirmed there appears to be a disconnect. “Read Anna’s blog. Do not know what all it means? For we all had very useful preparatory meeting with Annaji wherein he gave useful guidance!” she tweeted early this evening.
Justice Santosh Hegde worked closely with Anna in championing and developing civil society’s version of the anti-graft legislation, the Lokpal Bill. The national ombudsman agency that the Bill births is what Anna has been fighting for over 18 months and several hunger fasts. “Somewhere we went wrong,” said Mr Hegde, adding, “I feel sorry (about the decision to disband the team) for the reason that the movement started by Anna for a strong Lokpal was need of the hour…It (the movement spearheaded by Team Anna) had progressed sufficiently and controversy or difference of opinion in regard to whether Team Anna should contest elections or not is unfortunate and which must have led to Anna disbanding the team.” Mr Hegde has also said that Team Anna should have steered clear of politics. (Watch)
From outside the team has come the criticism that those who have worked closest with Anna have always been hungry for power. There are also those that add that since August last year, when Anna drew epic crowds for a 16-day hunger strike in Delhi, calls to action since then have not stirred India. They certainly didn’t impact the government – for the last hunger strike, which lasted ten days in Delhi and ended on Friday, the government made no attempt to persuade Team Anna to end its fast.