New Delhi: Almost two months after disbanding the previous ‘Team Anna’, social activist Anna Hazare on Saturday introduced a new, revived team of activists to the nation.
Hazare announced the formation of a 15-member coordination panel which met here today for over five hours to formalise the future strategy of the "apolitical" anti-corruption movement.
Hazare had on September 19 confirmed his "separation" from his former team and from key associate Arvind Kejriwal on the issue of forming a political party and directed that his photographs or name should not be used for political campaigning.
Hazare promised to expand the panel by including around 40 more eminent citizens within a month. Former Army chief VK Singh could be a special invitee in the coordination committee.
The first list does not have names like that of the former Army chief or activists PV Rajagopal and `Waterman` Rajinder Singh and agriculture expert Devender Sharma.
Rajagopal and Singh had earlier snapped ties with Team Anna while Sharma had opposed Kejriwal-led group`s plans to turn the movement political.
A press statement issued by the group said Hazare reconstituted the Coordination Committee to re-energise India Against Corruption (IAC) movement, signalling a possible confrontation with Kejriwal-led group which is still using the name.
Hazare announced the 15-member Coordination Committee, which has erstwhile Team Anna`s members Justice (Retd) Santosh Hegde, Kiran Bedi, Medha Patkar, Akhil Gogoi, Sunita Godara, Arvind Gaur, Shivendra Singh Chauhan and Rakesh Rafiq.
The new faces in the committee are former DGP (Punjab) Shashikant, former IAS officer Avinash Dharmadhikari, Lt Col Brijendra Khokhar, Ran Singh Arya, activist Akshay Kumar and agri expert Vishambhar Chaudhary.
"I had sent an invite for Gen VK Singh (for today`s meeting). He will be meeting me later," Hazare told reporters here after a day-long meeting of the committee. Hegde and Dharmadhikari could not attend the meeting due to their preoccupations.
‘Movement never stalled’
After holding discussions with his team members on the future course of action of his anti-corruption movement, Hazare said while addressing the press that his movement had not stalled contrary to perception. “It has been two months since Team Anna members got separated. There were doubts as to whether the movement had stalled and why was Anna silent?”
But the movement is on and we have received suggestions from thousands who want to join our campaign, Hazare said. Many police officers and Army men are willing to join our movement, the Gandhian added.
Hazare said he was in fact going to expand the movement and announced the opening of an office in South Delhi’s Sarvodaya Enclave tomorrow.
The social activist said the renewed movement would focus not just on Lokpal but also a complete overhaul of the system, right to reject elected candidates and citizen’s charter for time-bound services to the public.
Hazare said the government’s Lokpal was not acceptable to them, and that they would continue to fight for Jan Lokpal.
"The movement is on. We don`t want the useless government Lokpal. We will fight for a strong Lokpal, decentralisation, Right to Reject, Citizens Charter and system change. If we have all these laws, 90 per cent of corruption can be eradicated," he said. “We need a revolution to change the system,” he added.
"The government does not have the intention. If they bring Lokpal, they know 15 ministers will be in jail. Why should they do it then?... We will ensure that crores of people rise and ensure that the government be forced to enact the law," he said, adding government will have to bring Lokpal Bill before next General Elections in 2014.
However, Hazare said the movement`s intention is not to assemble crowds but bring about a change in the system.
He informed that he would embark on a nationwide tour from Gandhi Maidan in Patna in Bihar from January 30.
Stating many separate civil movements were going on in the country, Hazare appealed to all activists to come together to save the nation.
‘Foreign companies bad’
Speaking on FDI in retail, Anna said there was a need to stop foreign firms from entering India. There would be privatisation of basic resources because of foreign firms, he warned.
Touching upon land acquisition, he alleged government was "gifting" farmers` land to foreign companies. "If farmers don`t leave their land, first they use lathis. If they continue to resist, then bullets are fired on them.”
On the issue of using the name IAC, Hazare said he was not for confrontation and if Kejriwal-led group gives it, he will take it. "Earlier you remember, my photo was in the banners of IAC," he said indicating that he would prefer to use it.
However, former IPS officer and Team Anna member Kiran Bedi said it was not Hazare who moved out of the movement but others (Kejriwal-led group). "They will be announcing the new name of the party. So, it won`t be a problem on the name," she said.
Bedi, who addressed the media before Anna, announced the revival of the movement.
“We are glad to have Anna Hazare back in our movement. We have to raise our voice again for the independence of investigation agencies,” she said, adding, “We are not for Jan Lokpal alone”.
Bedi said their campaign will go on till probe agencies become independent.
She also indirectly hit out at Kejriwal, saying while it was easy to point out corruption what was important is to go into the root cause of graft.
Narmada Bachao Andolan leader and Magsaysay award winner Medha Patkar urged like-minded people to join the movement, vowing, “The fight against corruption will go on.”
“Reforms are not our only agenda. We are for a complete change of system,” she said.
She said there was a need to give a new direction to the movement and announced that the youth would join their movement.
Taking pot shots at Kejriwal, Patkar said: “People are exposing scams. But what we need is decentralisation of power.”