Team Anna takes political plunge

Anna Hazare and his team ended their indefinite fast against corruption yesterday evening, spelling out the contours of their political alternative that would be a “movement” to put an end to the “Delhi-centric government” and take governance to the villages and the people.

Hitting out at an “unresponsive government” that refused to buckle to their demands of passing the Jan Lokpal bill for creation of an ombudsman to probe graft in the system, Team Anna, as Hazare’s band of civil society activists is known, said they would take their agitation “inside parliament and on the streets”.

Arvind Kejriwal said their political alternative would not be a party but an “andolan” and they would tour the country to meet farmers, the youth and other people to know their problems and seek solutions and come up with a manifesto.

“Our aim is not to grab power, but to end the Delhi-centric government and take governance to the villages and the people. Ours will not be a party, but a movement,” Kejriwal told the cheering crowd. Kejriwal, who was on fast since the past 10 days and his weakening health condition had led to serious concern, spoke for just over half an hour about the political alternative.

Anna, Kejriwal
Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare (L) on the fourth day of his hunger strike and his team member Arun Kejriwal. Pic/AFP.

“There will be no party high command and the people will select the candidates. We will go among the farmers and the people and ask them about their problems. They will tell us about their problems and their solutions. We will also go among the youth and ask them about the problems they face and ask for solutions. Likewise, we will go around the entire country and meet people. They will form the ghoshna patra, or manifesto.”

“Ours will have the structure of an andolan, and be what the people want.” Kejriwal said that if the government acceded to their demands of “right to recall (non performing MPs), right to reject (candidates) and empower village councils” then they would not go for a political alternative.

He said they would put up on their website all the donations they get and threw an open challenge to the political parties to do the same, and likewise with their expenses.

Kejriwal invited those in the ruling Congress and opposition BJP to join their “desh bhakt”movement if they were feeling “suffocated” in their respective parties. “I have a vision that in three years, India will change,” he added.

Army ex-chief joins Anna bandwagon

Former Indian Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh on Friday lent his voice to Hazare's anti-graft movement and also joined the protest at Jantar Mantar here where the fasting social activists ended their hunger strike.

Expressing his strong support to Hazare and his movement against corruption, Gen. Singh, who had blown the lid off the Tatra army trucks bribe offer while still in office, also warned Hazare to be prepared to face opposition from anti-democratic forces.

Supporting Hazare and his team members coming out with a political alternative, Singh said: "Team Anna must be prepared to face opposition from those who do not believe in democracy."

‘Team Anna can’t be alternative to BJP’

BJP chief Nitin Gadkari yesterday welcomed Anna Hazare and his team’s announcement to enter the political arena but stressed that it could not become an alternative to his party. In an interview to a TV channel, Gadkari said BJP supports “anyone who’s against corruption, be it Anna Hazare or Baba Ramdev. If Anna seeks our support, we will help”.

He said Team Anna could not become an alternative to the BJP but the Congress could. He also said his party did not face any threat from this new group.

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