A day after Team Anna members said the core committee would not be disbanded, the leader of the anti-corruption movement declared that the panel would be ‘revamped' according to a new constitution.
Mr. Anna Hazare's statement on Sunday comes at a time when the movement is embroiled in controversies, besides facing demands from its members for the dissolution and overhaul of the core committee.
Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi met Mr. Hazare here and briefed him on Saturday's meeting in Ghaziabad.
While Team Anna continued to put up a united front, they agreed that the time had come for the movement to be ‘consolidated' through a process of selection.
“There will be a constitution for the movement in the future. It will be the basis for who will be part of the core committee [and] the working committee, and how the character of the members should be. There will be provisions to punish those members who commit mistakes,” Mr. Hazare said in a written statement read out by Mr. Kejriwal. Mr. Hazare continues to be on a vow of silence (maun vrat).
The existing core committee will continue until the constitution is framed and thereafter it will be reconstituted, according to Mr. Hazare.
Asked why the need was felt for revamping the team, Ms. Bedi said: “The movement was formed with a sense of urgency, and it grew out of a necessity. That is what the situation demanded. It is now heading towards consolidation, through a process of selection.”
However, Mr. Hazare said he did not “find it right” that some people were talking about disbanding the core committee. Member Kumar Vishwas had written to him demanding that it be terminated. Another member Medha Patkar had called for an “overhaul.”
“Team Anna is very strong and no one can break it. There were talks about disbanding the core committee. I don't think it is right. If we flee the ground due to some small allegations, then people will lose faith in us, and it will not be good for the movement. We will fight this together, and we will remain united until the Jan Lokpal Bill is passed,” Mr. Hazare said.
He said there were attempts to defame the movement and its members by the government and the Congress, but the movement continued to remain strong.
As for Mr. Bhushan's statement on holding a plebiscite in Kashmir, Mr. Hazare said opinions of individual members on various issues of national interest should not be portrayed as those of Team Anna. “The movement has people from various walks of life, with different opinions on various issues.”
On Congress leader Digvijay Singh's allegations that the movement was supported by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Mr. Kejriwal said there was no organisational support to it from the RSS. “There were all kinds of people who joined the movement, and they came as Indians. What is wrong if the RSS wants to join a movement against corruption?
Ms. Bedi added: “Aren't RSS people Indians?”
Winter session deadline
Reiterating his deadline for the government to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament, Mr. Hazare said the movement was not against any party. “As the Congress is heading the government at the Centre, they should fulfil their responsibility.”
Mr. Hazare said he would tour the five poll-bound States along with team members if the Bill was not passed in the winter session.
He said the Congress was scared because of its defeat in the Hisar Lok Sabha by-election. “We know very well that the winning candidate does not stand for anti-corruption. But our campaign in Hisar was a way to show the government how people can express their anger if the Lokpal Bill is not passed in the winter session.”