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Updated: December 23, 2013 01:04 IST

Open letter to Anna Hazare

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Hazare, who earlier held a ‘no
compromise’ position on the Jan
Lokpal, now enthusiastically
supports the Lokpal Bill.
DRAMATIC CHANGE: Anna Hazare, who earlier held a ‘no compromise’ position on the Jan Lokpal, now enthusiastically supports the Lokpal Bill.

The anti-corruption movement is very important. The impression must not be created that it is a fractured movement, writes Ramaswamy R. Iyer

Respected Anna Hazareji,

I have for long been a great admirer of yours. The social mobilisation and moral transformation that you brought about in Ralegan Siddhi in the 1980s was a truly historic achievement. You went on to bring about another and even bigger achievement two decades later, namely a national anti-corruption mass movement. With this, you became a national and even international figure of great importance and put corruption firmly on the national agenda.

Against that background I am distressed and dismayed at some recent developments. One knows that Arvind Kejriwal and you parted ways over the issue of forming a political party. It should be possible to maintain those differences without any loss of mutual regard.

While maintaining your reservations on the conversion of a movement into a political party, you could have been generous enough to wish Arvind well in his efforts to cleanse the system in his own way. Initially you made some positive remarks about his dramatic electoral success, but your tone changed very soon. You became critical, tried to downplay his success by claiming that he would have done better if you had campaigned for him, obliquely suggested doubts about AAP’s funding, and made snide remarks about people who go before cameras. The tone and tenor of these attacks seem uncharacteristic of you. As an admirer of yours, may I implore you to get away from these aberrations and revert to your innate greatness and nobility of nature?

On the Lokpal Bill (now a law), you are ready not merely to accept a compromise but to do so enthusiastically. I am mystified by this dramatic change in your attitude from what it was a year ago. AAP is still adhering to your earlier position of a firm stand on the Jan Lokpal Bill. My own view is that the law now passed, however imperfect, is a useful start, and is certainly a historic development. However, AAP is entitled to its views. This again is a legitimate difference of views.

You seem to regard the passing of this law as a personal victory. No one will wish to dispute that claim. However, the shaking up of politics caused by the recent Assembly elections brought about a change in the thinking of the political parties, and this partly accounts for the sudden willingness to pass a Lokpal law. Thus, AAP’s electoral success also had something to do with this development, even though AAP itself is critical of the new law.

A combination of circumstances brought about the quick passing of a law, a development that would have been inconceivable not very long ago.

The anti-corruption movement is very important. The impression must not be created that it is a fractured movement. Unfortunately, it seems to me that having started a great revolution you are now weakening that revolution yourself by your attacks on a former trusted lieutenant who still remains your disciple though you have disowned him. He has no doubt chosen a different path, but he and you are on the same side in the battle against corruption.

AAP itself is an offshoot of the movement that you started. If AAP can claim a part of the credit for the passing by Parliament of the Lokpal law (though they consider it weak), you in turn can claim AAP’s electoral success as partly your own because it is the outcome of the movement that you started. If you keep this in mind, much of the misunderstanding will disappear. This is as much an appeal to Arvind Kejriwal as to you.

With respectful salutations, warm regards and best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Ramaswamy R. Iyer

(The writer is a former Secretary, Water Resources, Government of India)


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This indeed is a very apt letter. Common man is really puzzled by the rift between Mr. Hazare and Mr. Kejriwal. Writer has unerringly brought forth the feelings of common man. We need these two great personalities to complement each other and feed their energies into fight against corruption. This alone can free India from corruption. May God bring peace and unity to anti-corruption movement.
I wish Mr. Hazare will read this letter and will guide the new AAP government in New Delhi to success.

from:  Shrenik Jain
Posted on: Dec 25, 2013 at 15:10 IST

Anna's reaction over AAP's emergence has it's roots in the sentiments of a heart, who worked all his life for an idea. If he were a politician, his reaction might have been diplomatic.Anna's contribution in mobilizing people is unprecedented and nobody better than Kejriwal understands it. The way Kejriwal has maintained harmony through out is the very symbol of respect and faith he has for Anna and their common fight.I am quite hopeful that they will be together very soon.

from:  Dipali
Posted on: Dec 24, 2013 at 18:05 IST

The views expressed by Sri Ramaswamy R Iyer were those of millions of people who are
vexed with corruption and the way by the existing political parties deal with it. It is high time
for Annaji to endorse the path chosen by Kejriwal and ask him to join hands with him (Annaji)
to cleanse the political system and make electoral reforms.

from:  Subramanyam Raju
Posted on: Dec 24, 2013 at 16:12 IST

Bhagat Singh had said "Because Mahatamaji is great, therefore none should criticise him. ... This mentality does not lead towards progress. It is rather too obviously, reactionary."
This summarizes the fault with any revolution movement. When a person becomes more important than cause - may it be Anna or Arvind - it is the end of revolution itself.
Arvind, or more specifically AAP, is not popular because of who he is, but because of what he is doing. Though Arvind is a popular rally point and a good organizer, the real reason in that AAP has incorporated revolutionary steps in terms of transparency and involvement of people.
Similarly Anna is not important. The reason was his insistence on a lokpal which is not just another CVC. Anna discarded his stance, so the revolution, the people, have discarded him.

from:  raman
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 23:18 IST

Very well said. Spoke my mind. Against Anna Hazare's cheap acts, Arvind
Kejriwal has been very dignified - something the master can learn from
his disciple.

from:  Raju
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 23:09 IST

It seems like, the writer pleads Anna to live up to an expectation that Anna Hazare is not capable of. He is only "Aam aadmi". Instead of relying on a symbolic image to fight against, curruption and asking a living and breathing person to live up to a symbol that exists only in imagination of the writer, he is asking for disappointment and in turn, is in itself a failure of the movement. Anna Hazare or AAP should not have monopoly over an ideological battle. In fact, having done so already, the AAP is now caught between responsiblity towards people and its own ideology. In short, the constant reliance of Indians on symbolism for a cause, in my opinion, can prove to be a failure and undermines the roots of a problem and making the solution evasive.

from:  Aarti Nagarajan
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 19:20 IST

Thanks a ton to Mr. Ramaswamy R. Iyer ji. He worded feelings of millions of "aam aadami". I expect Annaji and Arvindji and whole team gets united again in fight against corruption.

from:  Amit Nahar
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 19:09 IST

It's replica of my thoughts... AK always said that the paths of these two may be different but the aim is one but Anna never endorsed his statement, not even in principle... that was disheartening... in order to combat any evil we have to entrap it from all the corners and that has happened... AK was fighting by getting into the system and Anna out of the system... Anna's lokpal law is the proof of it.. govt came under much pressure after seeing performance of AK in Delhi assembly election... otherwise, Anna sat on fast earlier also but no result came out... Anna must acknowledge contribution of AK in his victory of getting Lokpal law passed.... although AK is not satisfied with the law...

from:  neeru rawat
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 17:30 IST

The letter reflects the views of those who supported 'anticurruption movement' and admire
Annaji and Kejriwal.

from:  Subramanyam Raju
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 16:50 IST

Relevant article. When an individual is negatively egoistic, it leads
to a situation where he thinks, 'My way or the high way'. A petty
mentality often found in Indian polity. The larger picture is missed
and we start majoring on the minor issues of an individuals
propensity. The larger issue of 'Corruption' is being upstaged by an
individuals personal inclination. For a systemic change to be brought
about, the battle cannot be on the streets alone. Street
demonstrations can't be the final take for promulgating laws and
legislation. If that happens, any mob or gang with vested interest can
paralyse the nation with their protests. Arvind has done the right
thing and has taken one step further to enter politics. Politics is
not innately a dirty word, it is dirty 'by association' with the kind
of people that have entered politics who are morally bankrupt. Anna
thinks that politics is dirty, may be now it is. We need many more
Arvinds to enter politics to clean it 'by association'.

from:  Alex Bennett
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 15:27 IST

Dear Mr. Iyer,
This article makes victim out of Arvind Kejriwal and Anna being a
perpetrator. Anna ji was clear in his view of being apolitical.
Despite that, AAP was using his name continuously in Delhi. After his
opposition to that, supporters of AAP made him villain like what you
are doing in this article. This way his stance of being apolitical
was construed as anti AAP stance. This way you and others in AAP is
hurting his integrity the way also not done by major political
parties. So, i find it tough to imagine how he can remain silent
after being used as dummy model for a political cause of a party. The
stance of either you are with me or face the brunt is not justified.

from:  Karn Rai
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 14:34 IST

I think Anna by his own choice of siding away from AAP and even
criticizing it within days of its massive electoral gains has
undermined his own image as the Messiah against corruption . The same
view is evident in his hurry to pass a compromised Lokpal Bill.
Yes Arvind has chosen a different path but he never uttered a word
against Annaji . Why can't Anna reciprocate in a similar way .
We all should be wise enough to understand that the fight against
corruption is a much larger purpose than the petty credit claiming
wars .

from:  varun
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 14:22 IST

Ditto thoughts in my mind and of many more of admirer's of Anna &
Kejriwal. Anna please do not draw adverse conclusions right away. Give
Kejriwal at-least some time to walk his talk? Thank you.

from:  Mrigank Sharma
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 14:02 IST

Superb article. enlightening read.

from:  Rajan Singh
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 13:56 IST

Perfectly written.Anna seems to have fallen into the trap of
mainstream political parties trying to take the steam out of anti
corruption movement.There is no denying the fact that Arvind might
have taken a different path to the discomfiture of Anna but the goal
remains the same.Having come this far Anna should not sully his hard
earned reputation by being in the company of these péople who have ruled
and looted India for long.

May better sense prevail.

Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 13:55 IST

A very matured and aptly written letter. It echoes the sentiments of
the people that backed the movement. Anna was taken to USA and
brainwashed. The old man behaved like Dronacharya against Ekalavya. He
had become a joker and a dummy. Ably supported by Madam Kiran Bedi
they made a mockery of the movement by showering praises on political
parties for the present bill. It was the people power that gave
jitters to Congress, which challenged the people to come into politics
and the Aam Aadmi stunned all. Kiran Bedi turned to be the lady
Agnivesh. She was the one who coined the word Jokepal during the
movement days and today criticises AAP. How funny and selfish people
have become. Lets hope Arvind rises to the occasion and stuns all with
a sterling performance. Lets wish him the best. BJP's pride is dented.
They could not even reply to AAP's letter. Jaitley became a another
victim with his remarks on AAP.

from:  Pradeep
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 13:53 IST

I appreciate this letter, very nicely quoted. I am really not a follower of Gandhigiri but all time respect and have a faith in Anna Hazareji. I believe if Anna Hazareji openly support Arvind Kejrival (Not AAP) then it would be a real movement and huge historical move in our Country. As a youth of this country I really want this. And I am sure that one day these both (Annaji & Arvind) will come together to help our nation.

from:  Navin M. Karmarkar
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 13:36 IST

I totally agree with the writer's view,there is huge misunderstanding between these two great personality,i think both the persons have equal capability and they should iron out their differences among themselves as soon as possible,because New Delhi is just the start of a mission that can take India to new heights.
Hope to contribute in near future...

from:  Ankush Bansal
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 13:34 IST

It is also my considered view that Annaji tone & comments on AAP are more good natured than caustic. This article is very well written and I wish Annaji reacts positively to this. To purge the deep rooted corruption in India we need virtuous leaders of Mahathma Gandhi , Patel and Rajaji stature to raise our nation in the world view.
I salute the sefless service of Mr Kejriwal who has sacrificed his comfort zone to clean up the mess primarily created by Congress.
I wish him all success & clean administration in Delhi.

from:  Ravishankar.V
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 13:28 IST

Very well written! Perfectly echoes the thoughts of all AAP/Anna

from:  Gaurav
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 12:53 IST

I was surprised with the stance of Anna Hazare. Why is he opposing
Kejrival and AAP is some kind of mystery for me. There might be some
difference in opinion and actions but the intentions of both of them
are same, infact what AAP has done is a step ahead of what Anna is
doing. Anna is trying to change the system by pressurizing from
outside, whereas AAP is trying to change the system by entering in the
system itself.
There were open differences between the then Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru and
Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, but still the respected each other as they
knew their intentions were same. Anna should appreciate the spirit of
AAP instead of criticizing them.
I wish Anna could support AAP to bring revolution at a higher level.

from:  Akshay Dhadda
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 11:44 IST

Mr Iyerji. Annaji had to part ways with Arvind, because the former is a
social worker and the latter has become a politician. There will be
conflict of views and the corruption crusade will fall weak. Let
Kejriwal fight corruption through his actions as a Delhi CM, and as we
know Annaji needs no proof - his life has been spotless. The onus is on
Kejriwal to at least respect his guru. On this the disciple has failed,
unfortunately, because of his dis-support on Lokpal that was recently

from:  Amit
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 11:13 IST

Yes, Yes , this is exactly what i think. The fight is between 'right' and 'wrong'. It is really disgraceful that two rights are fighting each other and giving 'Wrong' a opportunity to unite.

from:  Ashish Vivekar
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 10:15 IST

The author of this story also keep in his mind that former trusted
lieutenant and still remains disciple of Annaji is ready align with
corrupted congress for the sake of power.

Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 10:04 IST

Anna should answer this letter as a lot of Anna and Arvind followers
want to know that.
There is a point which I want to say to Anna. Anna, why you are
treating Arvind as disparate person even though your battle is the
same but only your path is different. Isn't just like any religion
war, where target is same only path is different. You should not
criticize Arvind just because he entered into politics. As far as I
expect, he would not make his hand dirty to remove the dirt in the
I think you must respect the way he is proceeding for a better and
uncompromised Jan Lokpal Bill or "An Anti corruption movement".

from:  Amit Jain
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 09:19 IST

The article is balanced and has been written at an appropriate time when
political groups want to disrupt the unification of like minded people
against corruption. We need people to sublime their egos to join this
historic movement.

from:  v.Balasubramanian
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 08:44 IST

well written and well said " Ramaswamy R. Iyer " .AAP was born by the movement started by Anna and this is also true that Lokepal is passed because of success of AAP.Anna should behave in more dignified manner. He should not be running behind credit taking .. policy. I personally respect Arvind more than Anna, simply because AK has not changed his stand whereas Anna has.

from:  chandra
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 08:26 IST

Very good letter and nicely said ....,I also request Annaji to change his attitude...

from:  subbu
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 06:57 IST

Very politely put. For someone with the reputation of being honest to the core, Anna
Hazare's attitude to Arvind Kejriwal has shown that, at the very least he lacks
diplomacy. Considering those who still hang around him, it appears very likely that his
whole movement will collapse once he goes away from the scene.

Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 04:24 IST

Nicely written by Mr. Iyer. It is very disappointing to note the change
in the attitude of Annaji , which gives room to suspicion that he has
also been won over by the wily Congress. Added to this, the decision
(hopefully not final) of AAP to take the support of the party against
whom AAP (read Kejriwal) started all this is another pointer of
suspicion. God alone knows ( or should I say Annaji and Kejriwal alone
know!!!) what is behind these actions!!

from:  Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 04:03 IST

Very sensible letter. I have lost all my respect for Anna after he
couldn't share his fame with his disciple and weakened the anti
corruption wave

from:  Sanchit Garg
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 01:53 IST

Fantastic. I totally share the views of the author of this open letter,
Shri. Ramaswamy R.Iyer.
Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal & AAP should be together in their fight
against corruption. In any big movements, few misunderstandings do
happen. But that shouldn't take away the focus from their main cause.
I sincerely wish this letter comes to the notice of Shri. Anna Hazare.

from:  Kasi Viswanath
Posted on: Dec 23, 2013 at 01:48 IST
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