New Delhi: Slamming the government for trying to divert the attention from the Jan Lokpal Bill, Team Anna categorically stated on Saturday that there was no question of dissolving the core committee.
Addressing the press after a meeting of the core committee in Ghaziabad, Arvind Kejriwal said, “A unanimous decision has been taken not to dismantle the core group.” Kejriwal however did accept that there was always scope for “restructuring and strengthening the team”.
"The meeting was of the view that lakhs of volunteers and
along with the core committee members have played a
significant role in the movement," he said.
Emphasising that there was “no split in the team” and that the “movement for a strong Jan Lokpal Bill under the guidance of Anna Hazare will continue,” Kejriwal warned the government that if the bill was not passed in the Winter Session of Parliament then Team Anna would campaign in the upcoming Assembly Elections in the five states against Congress.
Directly blaming the UPA government headed by the Congress party for misusing the state machinery to go after various members of Team Anna like Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan, Kejriwal said that the core committee strongly opposes such tactics.
Also defending the decision of the members of Team Anna to campaign in the Hissar by-polls, Kejriwal said that it was not against “any particular party but a means of putting pressure on the government to pass a strong Lokpal Bill.” He added, “It was the right decision”.
He also said that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s letter to
Hazare on passage of the Bill came too late. "If it had come
earlier we may not have campaigned against Congress in
On allegations by former Team Anna member Swami
Agnivesh`s allegations that Rs 80 lakh in donations to India
Against Corruption headed by Hazare was diverted to Kejriwal`s
NGO, Kejriwal said it was a decision taken by Hazare in
Ralegan Siddhi that the cheques would be credited in the
account of PCRF run by him.
"All the expenses are accounted for and are available on
website," he said.
The core group met in Ghaziabad at the office of Kejriwal-headed Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF), an NGO.
The meeting was held to discuss the crisis facing the team after it became enmeshed in a series of controversies involving key members like Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi as well as the resignation of two prominent activists - Rajinder Singh and PV Rajagopal, who cited the political turn taken by Hazare`s anti-corruption movement as the reason for leaving the movement.
The meeting also discussed the future course of action by the team amidst a renewed attack on Hazare by Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who alleged that the Gandhian`s anti-corruption agitation was part of an over-all plan of RSS-BJP to divert attention from right-wing terror.
Ahead of the meeting, Bedi had said that there were no differences in the team and that they all want the Jan Lokpal Bill passed in the Winter Session of Parliament.
"We are not afraid of fighting for our rights. We will definitely fight for the Jan Lokpal Bill. We are not going to be deterred by the attacks launched on us. We will continue our work," she had stated.
Anna Hazare -- who is on a vow of silence since October 16 -- did not attend the meeting. But, he was in touch over phone through his personal secretary.
Prominent Team Anna members Justice Santosh Hegde, Medha Patkar, Vincent M Concessao and Kumar Vishwas were conspicuous by their absence. Hegde cited a “prior commitment” in Mumbai for not attending the meet. Vishwas has left for Tokyo, reports say.
Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Prashant and Shanti Bhushan and Manish Sisodia were among those present.
Bhushan and Kejriwal will be going to Ralegan Siddhi to
brief Anna Hazare about the deliberations at today`s meeting.
Earlier, Vishwas and Patkar had demanded "complete overhaul" of the core committee.
Vishwas shot off a letter to Hazare demanding suspension of the core committee and sought its expansion to make it more representative.
"Such attacks (against Team Anna members) and the subsequent clarifications will strengthen the conspiracy to divert the attention from the key issues...I request you to give greater representation to the core committee consisting of limited members and turn it into a hard-core committee comprising of 121 crore people," Vishwas said in his letter to the Gandhian.
“I once again urge you to suspend the present core committee and create a new system to enable us to see a corruption-free new India," he wrote.
Patkar had said, "I don`t think there is a difference of opinion. The only thing is a bit of overhauling is certainly becoming necessary because there are a number of allegations and Core Committee members are being targeted".
Journalist Raju Parulekar, who is Hazare`s official blogger, had said yesterday that the core committee of Team Anna will be expanded soon.
Parulekar had said that Hazare is contemplating forming a pan-India apolitical organisation to achieve his objective of a change in the whole electoral system.
"The new outfit would aim at not playing the game of election but to change the rule of the game of election," Parulekar had said, adding "it will be an apolitical organisation".