Says Hazare will take a final call on the issue
The core committee of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement on Monday broadly agreed on not targeting any single party in the coming Assembly elections in five States, but left it to the ailing social activist to take a final call on the matter.
This emerged after a seven-hour marathon meeting of the committee, which could not be attended by some prominent members. Of the 26 members, only 17 participated. Among the absentees were Shanti Bhushan, Kiran Bedi, Medha Patkar and Santosh Hegde.
The team discussed various issues but decided not to make a formal announcement of its deliberations until after discussions with Mr. Hazare, who is recuperating in his village, Ralegan Siddhi.
This was Team Anna's first meeting after Mr. Hazare called off his agitation in Mumbai and Delhi for a strong Lokpal Bill.
Those who attended the meeting that discussed the “short-term and long-term strategy” were clear that the anti-corruption movement would not retreat. On the contrary, it would bring to the notice of the people the issues of corruption, electoral reforms, the role played by various parties on the Lokpal Bill in Parliament and about people's participation in a democracy. “There will be focus on improvising the movement's two-way communication with people.”
On Tuesday, team members Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Kumar Vishwas will meet Mr. Hazare and apprise him of the “general consensus” in the meeting.
It is learnt that in a note sent to the committee, Ms. Patkar had expressed the view that the India Against Corruption movement should not target any party but intervene in innovative ways such as apprising people of the candidates in the fray.
She wanted the movement to link itself with other grassroots movements engaged in the struggle against corruption and exploitation.
“We discussed the pros and cons of various suggestions. Not to target any party was one of the options. No decision has been taken as some of the prominent members were not there, as also Anna. We will discuss this with Mr. Hazare when we meet him in Ralegan tomorrow [on Tuesday],” Mr. Prashant Bhushan told The Hindu.
Mr. Hazare did not attend the meeting as he was not keeping well and had been advised by doctors not to travel for at least a month. Consequently, he cancelled his plan to travel to Uttar Pradesh to campaign against the Congress.
Mr. Bedi told The Hindu that she could not participate as she had to attend to her ailing father. Asked about her views on targeting a political party in elections, she said: “Let the core committee discuss and decide.”
Admitting that the movement was at the crossroads, Mr. Kejriwal had recently sought suggestions from people on which way to go.