Some members of Team Anna will hold an indefinite fast in the presence of Anna Hazare from July 25 at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to demand a strong Lokpal Bill. While Anna Hazare will not be fasting this time around - his team member Arvind Kejriwal along with few others will sit on fast -, it will be keenly watched whether they will be able to draw in crowds and support akin to what was witnessed last August at Ramlila Maidan.
Key Team Anna member Kiran Bedi, in an exclusive interview with Zeenews.com’s Biplob Ghosal, explained why Anna Hazare is not fasting this time. Bedi, India’s first woman cop and a social activist, also shared her team’s views on issues regarding changes needed in the electoral system and the team’s relationship with Baba Ramdev.
Biplob: It was Anna Hazare who used to observe fast in the past. He has been the face of the anti-corruption movement ever since it began. But this time around, Arvind Kejriwal along with few other team members will be observing an indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar. Does this mean that Anna is being sidelined and Kejriwal is becoming the face of the movement? What led your team to take such a decision?
Bedi: The India Against Corruption (IAC) core group requested Anna to allow some of its volunteering members to fast. This was to protect Anna`s health. It took Anna more than 6 months to recover from the consequences of the 12-day fast at Ramlila Grounds. His feet were swollen and vitals were also affected. Hence, none of us wanted a repeat of this. The youngsters decided to take over in Anna`s presence. Hence…
Biplob: With Arvind Kejriwal at the forefront, do you think Delhiites will turn up in numbers like last year, contrary to the poor numbers recorded in Mumbai?
Bedi: The movement belongs to all and begins with self-giving and not waiting for others to follow. We have been doing what we think is a duty to be done and personally give to the movement what all Indians ought to be giving, if they (people) want a clean future for the country. The movement remains under Anna`s guidance and leadership. However, it’s always healthy for movements to bring forth more leadership. It’s good for the present and the future.
Biplob: Arvind Kejriwal recently said that 2014 General Elections will see an alternative political party emerge. Is Team Anna planning to jump electoral politics? If no, then what is the reason behind this statement?
Bedi: The reason is very simple. It is for reiterating the message to vote for men and women of proven capability and integrity… and not go by party symbols. The old have shown their determination to deny the country an effective anti-corruption system at all cost. Hence, they have to be voted out for new comers who may want to join politics and serve the country in that capacity.
Biplob: Team Anna and Baba Ramdev have announced that they will lend support to each other’s movements. However, Anna Hazare had himself declared last year that his team would not team up with the yoga guru. So why did Anna change his decision?
Bedi: All I know is both the movements have a common goal. And both are determined to carry it on. What has been said or not said is no more the issue. The reality as of today is that they are in a common cause for national good.
Biplob: Your team and the government have been at loggerheads over certain provisions in the Lokpal Bill. If the ombudsman bill is passed in the present form by Parliament, what will be Team Anna’s strategy to deal with such a situation?
Bedi: The people will have to continue to expose the deceit in the bill. Or else it shall be one more budgetary burden!
Biplob: Which political party does your team hold responsible for the pitiful condition of the Lokpal Bill and what’s your message to the political class?
Bedi: Congress-led UPA at the Centre, as they are responsible for bringing Lokpal Bill in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Other different parties at state level are responsible for not bringing in strong Lokayuktas!
The truth is, no one, barring silent exceptions in the current political-power scene, truly wants the rule of law which one day, (who knows) may get to them! The current ineffectiveness/ `slavery` of the system regrettably suits them. And internally they are in it together.
In such movements, there is heavy dependence on visual media today to deal with ignorance of law, and help inform and organise the poor. Helpless people are the real losers of corruption and the beneficiaries of status quo are those who have money and position-power to buy and control!
This includes politicians plus other powerful vested interests.