The Congress party must be laughing like anything to see the bickering and dissensions among Team Anna members.
It is a little too early to say if Team Anna has become a victim of Congress's diabolical plans to disintegrate the team or the team is going down under the weight of its own confusion, contradictions and self inflicted injuries.
It was a turning point in the history of modern India when thousands of people came out in support of the movement against corruption led by Anna Hazare. The only thing comparable was the student movement led by JP in the early 70s, albeit the movement of the 70s was directly against the autocratic regime of Indira Gandhi and the emergency while the present movement was only focused on just one thing '“ corruption. The support for the movement was unprecedented. People, both men and women, were leaving their professional commitments to join Anna Hazare, housewives were there to show their support, students left their classes to be there. The crowd assembled at Jantar Mantar was a mixed bag representing all sections of the society. India had spoken, loud and clear in one voice, that enough is enough and we want India to get rid of corruption.
What is happening to the movement which has such a massive support base in the psyche of the Indian public? What went wrong when people associated with it are mired in so many controversies? There might be an array of reasons for this problem but I am going to talk about two issues which, in my opinion, is accentuating the whole thing:
1) It is not a secret that the UPA government, while talking and giving the impression of negotiating with Team Anna in the initial days of the movement had no intention of doing anything serious about corruption. They were just trying to buy time and see how the whole thing was going to shape up. The public uproar was so huge that they had no option but to talk to Team Anna. All the members of this team were no match to the political shrewdness of Pranab Mukherjee, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and others. Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and others had no experience and training to deal with this kind of situation.
The Congress party is the master of spin politics. When all the talks and negotiations were over, the party started using Digvijay Singh against Team Anna members. He started firing one salvo after another against them and very successfully made an issue out of a non-issue. The party, which was the reason for this movement and which was involved in the largest scams (2G scam '“ Rs1.76 lakh crore and CWG scam '“ Rs4,500 crores) deflected the real issue and made the issue of Arvind Kejriwal paying back Rs 9 lakhs to the Government of India for leaving his Income tax job before his contract was over and Kiran Bedi's reimbursement of plane tickets by her travel agent for regular fares while she was receiving a discount because of her being a recipient of gallantry award, an issue.
Both of them were part of lucrative government jobs and I have friends, both in the Income tax Service and Indian Police Service, and I know that if they want to make money, they do not have to inflate their plane ticket reimbursement. Arvind Kejriwal even alleged that government was spending crores of rupees and planting stories in media to separate Anna Hazare from him and other prominent team members Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan.
2) The most important word required on the part of Team Anna members is restraint. They have started making comments about Lokayukta bill in different states and also saying things about different chief ministers on their respective roles as CM. The most important infamous act would be of Kiran Bedi doing the '˜ghunghat act' at Jantar Mantar where she was mocking politicians.
Arvind Kejriwal was critical of the draft of the Lokayukta bill for Bihar. This obviously made Nitish Kumar, undoubtedly the most honest chief minister in the country, very upset and he said that 'I had never given any word to Team Anna about the outline of the Bihar lokayukta bill. If at all, I have given any promise to anybody in the fight against corruption, it is to the people of Bihar, to whom I am accountable'. Arvind Kejriwal was very appreciative of the Lokpal bill in Uttarakhand, which covers the lower judiciary in addition to senior officers, and said it was identical to their Jan Lokpal bill. Manish Tiwari, Congress spokesperson, took advantage of the situation and supported Nitish Kumar.
The public has started to feel that there is too much ego clash among the top members of Team Anna and they have started to think of themselves as '˜Netas'. They should not forget that the movement against corruption is to get rid of the conventional netas and bring in new people who would take the movement to the next level. This movement is bigger than Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and others and they are the lucky ones that history is giving them a chance to shoulder this responsibility and they, under no circumstances, should get swayed by the public adulation and support. The adulation is movement specific and not people-centric. The problems within Team Anna has reached such a point that Anna Hazare announced yesterday that he is going to revamp the committee.
If the movement has to succeed, it should not become a fight between Team Anna and the Congress party. If this happens, Team Anna would lose. The spin masters of the Congress party are already planting stories that Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi are exploiting Anna for their own financial gain and fame. Team Anna should not get into a direct fight with the Congress party '“ the goliath of political manipulation. It should be simply a war against corruption. They should be very careful of what they say and what they do. The Jan Lokpal bill would definitely act as a very strong deterrent but the mindset of the people also has to change. Corruption is not only limited to the Congress or any other political party. I know people who are totally apolitical but are corrupt to the core. BJP is supporting the movement because it was the politically correct thing to do. Why BJP was waiting for Anna Hazare to raise the issue of corruption? Why they did not take the initiative? We need a new breed of politicians with a different mindset. We have to kill the dogma that honesty is alien to politicians.