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Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal rift widens to breaking point

Monday, 16 December 2013 - 7:28am IST | Place: MumbaiDelhiRalegan Siddhi | Agency: DNA

The rift between Anna Hazare and his former protege and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal has widened further.

While the Hazare camp believes the “Anna magic” was behind Kejriwal’s recent success, Team Kejriwal believes Hazare is being misled.

Hazare’s close associate Vishwambhar Choudhari on Sunday alleged that the party wanted to stall Hazare’s attempt to get the Lokpal bill approved as otherwise they would be deprived of a poll plank during the Lok Sabha elections.

Hazare himself rubbished Kejriwal’s contention that the Lokpal bill was weak. He said: “If anyone feels there are shortcomings in the bill after it is passed, they should fast for it.” Hazare is on a fast for the past six days at his Ralegan Siddhi village in Ahmednagar to press for the Lokpal bill.

“The government’s control over CBI has been removed in this bill. I saw 13 such points and told the government that I welcome this,” Hazare said. “I welcome the government’s bill. This bill is in favour of the public. I am grateful that the government brought this bill... I feel this is a good bill. It will do good to the society and the public. That is why I have welcomed it.”

Hazare said: “I am going on the path of agitations and he [Kejriwal] has formed a political party.
This country has gained freedom and many other things through public unrest and agitation and not through political parties. The country has witnessed this on many occasions. In democracy, they are free to do what they want and I have many other things including right to recall, right to reject for which I would be needed to launch yet another fast... since the present form of bill is satisfactory, I have agreed to it.” Hazare was speaking at a press conference in Ralegan Siddhi.

Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Kejriwal on Sunday said: “I am a little saddened by Anna’s support to the government Lokpal Bill. But may be Anna is not completely informed about the bill. He is being misled by people around him. When we meet him we will try to explain the loopholes to him.” Also, he said, Anna’s health was important for the movement and the country. “He should immediately end his fast.”

Kejriwal said the Lokpal bill in its present form “won’t send a mouse to jail”.

But Kiran Bedi who was present with Hazare at Ralegan Siddhi said: “In the first place, they [Team Kejriwal] are kids and they have formed a political party, which is why they want to keep the issue alive. Anna is a veteran who resorts to fasts and wants laws. They want issues and Anna wants laws. As far as the present form of bill is concerned, it is capable of sending behind the bars even a lion forget a mouse.”

Speaking to dna, Choudhari alleged that the AAP benefitted from its association with Hazare, which was reflected in the Delhi state assembly poll results. They are “using his image for narrow political ends”, he said.

“This latest version of the (Lokpal) bill contains around 75% of what was there in Anna’s Jan Lokpal bill. There is no reason for Anna to be at odds with the content,” Choudhari said. “The AAP wants the issue to be kept alive till the Lok Sabha polls. Otherwise, they will have no (campaign) issue.” Choudhari added that Hazare “shall not and will not” get into a stalemate with the government.

“They were against talking with the government even during the agitation on the Ram Lila ground in Delhi. This shows that they do not want the law to be passed. They pretend to be one with the movement but are deviating from its credo,” Choudhari said.

“The AAP seems to be in a state of euphoria over its success in the Delhi polls. But, to bring about a revolution, you need cultured activists, not uncultured ones. A party without an ideology or committed cadre may get sporadic success but will soon go into a downslide.”

After the emergence of the AAP in Delhi’s political space, “they [Team Kejriwal] realised that Anna was the magic behind their success”, said Choudhari. So, they tried to warm up to their former mentor after a chill in the ties. “It [success in the Delhi state assembly polls] is not the victory of the AAP. It was the defeat of the Congress and the BJP. It was a negative vote and not a positive vote.”
But Choudhari admitted that the AAP had succeeded in exploiting the political vacuum. 

“The AAP tried to hijack the movement and take credit,” he said. According to him one of the reasons behind the spectacular debut of the AAP in the Delhi state assembly polls was the ready availability of the India Against Corruption (IAC) cadre. “They also benefited from their association with Anna’s name.”

Choudhari expressed dissatisfaction at the attempt by AAP leaders like Kumar Vishwas to “grab whatever space that they could get” for their propaganda when they came to Ralegan Siddhi to visit Hazare during his fast. He also pointed out how the Gandhian expressed his displeasure at Vishwas and Gopal Rai’s behavior at the site.

He said Kejriwal and his associates formed the AAP despite Hazare objecting to the move.

Lokpal bill: Kejriwal slammed the Congress and its general secretary for misleading India over the Lokpal issue. “The Lokpal bill in its current form won’t send a mouse to jail, forget a politician.
The net result of passing this Lokpal is that Rahul Gandhi will get some credit,” he said. He vowed to continue the fight for getting a Jan Lokpal, which the country dreamed of during the Ram Lila agitation.


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