Today, Team Anna's work is over: Hazare
Team Anna members seemed cautious at best and confused at worst on how to react to its dissolution
Team Anna's agitation at Jantar Mantar ended on 3 August
Photo: Ankit Agrawal
“Today, Team Anna's work is over. I have also decided to have nothing to do with the government,” wrote Anna Hazare in Hindi. Within minutes the blog was picked up by the media and paraphrased translations began doing the rounds.
Apparently caught unawares by Hazare announcing his decision to disband them, the now erstwhile, Team Anna, seemed cautious at best and confused at worst on how to react to its dissolution. What adds to the confusion is the fact that 75-year-old Hazare chose to announce disbanding Team Anna and the core committee on his new blog hosted on the India Against Corruption’s website.
The first reactions from Hazare’s team came in from Kiran Bedi who is an active Twitter user. “Read Anna's blog. Do not know what it all means? For we all had very useful preparatory meeting with Annaji wherein he gave useful guidance!” she tweeted from her handle @thekiranbedi.
In his blogpost Hazare did not disclose any decision or detail of the team’s final meeting on Sunday, but said that he was not open to holding talks with the government on the Lokpal issue anymore. He also repeated what he had said at Jantar Mantar while announcing the “political alternative”. He wrote about the alternative being the “people’s demand” and how he will tour the country in the next one and a half years to mobilise people.
With an eye on the general elections due in 2014, the septuagenarian appealed to people to search for deserving candidates who have the spirit of service and love for the country.
Hazare, while disbanding Team Anna, also refocused the spotlight on himself stating that, “Today, at 75 years of age, I have the same enthusiasm as I did 35 years ago.” He also gave out a commandment that the political party that will be launched should essentially have the spirit of a “movement’. “I have told this to those who are making a party, that this movement must remain a movement. I will not stand for elections,” Hazare reiterated.
According to Hazare, the 2014 general election would be the last chance for the people to vote for candidates who can create a corruption-free country. The country was “awake,” he wrote while repeating that he himself would never stand for elections. Hazare said he was disbanding team Anna and its core committee because their work was over as the agitation and fasts demanding Jan Lokpal Bill were over. "Team Anna was formed to fight for Jan Lokpal. Today, Team Anna’s work is over," wrote Hazare. The issue had now moved onto a political alternative, and finding honest representatives, he hinted in the blog.
Team Anna's decision to enter electoral politics was earlier met with caution by (now) former core committee members such as justice (retd) Santosh Hegde and activist Medha Patkar. Reacting to the announcement made by Arvind Kejriwal and Hazare of providing a “political alternative”, Medha Patkar (@medhanarmada) had tweeted on August 4: “We have nt oppsed IAC decision, only put forth our posn, expressing concrn. We respect it as their decsn, but nt ours- MP (sic).” She added that it was not a criticism of anyone, not even of the process,“ I knew this, no shock either. MP”
However, Manish Sisodia, another close associate of Hazare, told TEHELKA that, “there was nothing extraordinary in Anna’s blog. There is no real entity called as Team Anna.” According to Sisodia this was a name given by the media to the group of people functioning together. The group’s work ended with agitation ending and a different identity will now be formed. “The support team is unchanged,” said Sisodia adding that that Hazare’s blogpost was something the team was aware of for a couple of days.
It was not clear, however, if the blog or the decision it announced was discussed. According to sources, it is not unlikely that Hazare has acted independently in order to distance himself from the political process. “Each of us in whatever way we can have to take responsibility for our duties towards d country! I guess Anna is placing d onus back on us!” tweeted Kiran Bedi.
The dissolution of Team Anna comes a day after the core committee met in Delhi on Sunday 5 August, after the Jantar Mantar agitation ended on Friday 3 August. Hazare also wrote a word of caution for his associates warning them not to seek just power and money. “Then what will the difference be between this party and the others,” he said, adding, “ I will stop and withdraw the day I feel that the movement is going after power and money.”
With inputs from Revati Laul
Karuna John is Associate Editor, Tehelka.com.
Revati Laul is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.