A great deal of resentment has seeped into the ranks of the Chennai chapter of the India Against Corruption movement. The reason, say former volunteers, some of whom had left their jobs to be part of the movement, is the lack of communication from New Delhi and the recent announcement made by activist Arvind Kejriwal regarding the formation of a political party.
After months of fasting and protesting under the banner of the movement, the team in Chennai, according to sources, is in danger of disbanding. The Chennai chapter, which had over 300 working volunteers and nearly 10,000 supporters at its peak in April, has seen a considerable decline in numbers.
“We joined the movement because it was not part of any political party. The Lokpal bill was our aim. Now, there seems no way ahead,” Balaji Prem, web coordinator and volunteer with the movement. Mr. Balaji had left his job to work on a full-time basis with the organisation.
Another major reason for the resentment is also the lack of importance given to the Chennai movement. “It is after great coaxing that we managed to get Anna here. The others hardly come here,” says another volunteer. “Whatever we know is only through the media. Though we have a member in the core committee, it is only for namesake because we are never consulted. Even the leaders choose to visit Bangalore, if at all they come to South,” he adds.
The volunteers point out that in a web conference with Shanti Bhushan, they had been assured that Mr. Kejriwal would not immediately decide on the political party. “But the decision to form it was taken without consulting the volunteers. Mr. Kejriwal had told us during his talk that there won’t be any political party,” says a volunteer.
There is also an impression that the movement is no longer led by Anna Hazare.
Over the last few months, volunteers in Chennai organised three indefinite fasts, two one-day fasts and campaigns to support the proceedings in New Delhi.
The group also boasted of a fully functional website, Facebook page and helpline numbers that regularly send out alerts and messages to volunteers. The Facebook page now carries the announcement that the IAC-Chennai website, email, FB page/group and all other electronic accounts would be officially closed by September 9 and that many volunteers are disassociating themselves from the IAC-Chennai brand but would continue to be involved in social causes under another name.
“It is the sense of hurt and betrayal that has forced many of us to leave the movement.
A few are still hoping for Anna Hazare’s word, and will decide after that,” says Mr. Balaji.