Anti-graft activist Kiran Bedi on Sunday appeared to be breaking ranks with erstwhile Team Anna by skipping a protest against corruption over differences on targeting the BJP, saying they cannot forget the support from the opposition party in some ways on the Lokpal Bill.
She also said that Arvind Kejriwal-led India Against Corruption cannot become the alternative to existing political system “overnight”.
Though Mr. Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan insisted earlier in the day that she will come to Jantar Mantar and join the protest, Ms. Bedi did not make it and said she had informed them of her personal perspective.
She was opposed to targeting the BJP on the coal block allocation issue by gheraoing the residence of BJP chief Nitin Gadkari and has been arguing in the group to focus on the Congress as it is the ruling party.
Mr. Kejriwal said on Saturday that Ms. Bedi was “completely” with them and “there could be two view points” on any issue. But he admitted that her viewpoint was “slightly different” on the issue.
“I had informed the team my personal perspective, that we ought to focus on the ruling party as bracketing opposition right now when they are already attacking the ruling party will in fact benefit only the party in power. They obviously firmed up their mind,” Ms. Bedi told PTI.
Asked about skipping the protest, the former IPS officer said she has nothing whatsoever to do with any political formation nor she was being soft. “I am just being realistic,” she said.
Noting that she was aware of the allegations against many in opposition, she said the question now is about the focus and the focus should be now on the “main culprit, the ruling party”.
“India needs honest political leadership and I look forward to widespread changes. But we got to be patient and inclusive. Without losing possible quarters of support even if we have ideological difference with them,” she said.
Warning against bracketing everybody as corrupt, Ms. Bedi said “end of the day if we paint all black but who will get us what the country needs now and in the near future? IAC cannot be an alternative overnight, it will take time.”
Defending her position, she said they have to get systems in place soon where we need the “prime opposition party” and in the Jan Lokpal Bill, the BJP was moving amendments for independent CBI at least had the Bill been allowed to be passed in the Rajya Sabha that night.
“Mr. Jaitely, Ms. Sushma Swaraj, Mr. Advani and Mr. Gadkari were receptive to our suggestions. Arvind and (the) Bhushans had several meetings with them. And they agreed to support in some ways, not in all though. But at least they were not dismissive as the ruling party. Why must we forget this?” she said.
Ms. Bedi claimed that the BJP, at least, was not “dismissive” like the ruling party as they “agreed to support in some ways, not in all though.... Why must we forget this? I am being objective in this. I have no political affiliation, inclination or expectations.”
She also thanked volunteers for “continuing to have faith in the movement“.
Earlier, she had tweeted her support for the protest though she voiced her opposition to target the BJP on the issue.
“I fully support Arvind’s call for Jantar Mantar rally. While I feel we need to focus on party in power, I respect his and others view to cover all. This is time for ‘a united front against corruption’ If we keep fragmented, the corrupt will continue to be in power to protect itself,” Ms. Bedi had said.