Cracks have begun appearing in Anna Hazare's core group, with Swami Agnivesh, a central figure till a few days ago, distancing himself from the agitation.
He told a news agency here on Friday that most decisions were taken by the fasting anti-corruption activist on his own and he expected everybody to adhere to them. “If you do not accept his decision then you are told to stay out of the group.”
Swami Agnivesh was reportedly upset at not being selected to be a part of the team that held talks with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Law Minister Salman Khursheed on Wednesday and Thursday. Mr. Hazare chose Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi to represent him. When Swami Agnivesh expressed his desire to be a part of that group, he was told that Mr. Hazare had nominated three others.
Earlier, Swami Agnivesh told a television channel that Team Anna was flexible on the demand for inclusion of Prime Minister under Lokpal. He later retracted the statement.
Swami Agnivesh believes that Team Anna should not insist on rushing through the Lokpal Bill in Parliament and allow it to be debated in accordance with constitutional norms.
He felt that Mr. Hazare should have responded to the appeal by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Parliament by calling off his fast on Thursday itself.
Expressing his views on a similar agitation led by yoga guru Baba Ramdev in June, he told the ANI news agency that the government had not done anything wrong in dealing with him.
Our Staff Reporter from Bangalore:
I am with Anna: Santosh Hegde
Even as reports of a rift in Team Anna began trickling in on Friday, the former Lokayukta, N. Santosh Hegde, who is also a Lokpal Bill drafting committee member, reiterated that he was with Anna.
Reacting to media reports that quoted him as saying “I am not in Team Anna anymore,” Mr. Hegde told The Hindu : “Sometimes I wonder whether I am with Team Anna or not because I am in Bangalore and they are in [New] Delhi. Things are happening fast and we are not kept informed. We are asked questions by the people and the media.”
Asked if he was with Team Anna or not, he said, “I am still with Team Anna; I have not moved out. Why would I carry a badge [of Anna's movement] otherwise?” Need to protect Anna, others
He said the fast should be separated from the protest. “I gave a call to Anna three days back to give up the fast. If anything happens to him, the whole movement will go. We want him to live,” he said.
He alsosaid that it was necessary to protect the supporters who were fasting.
On whether Anna was dictating terms to Parliament, he said: “When dealing with Parliament we need to be tactful. To an extent, Parliament is independent to make decisions. But I don't agree with the principle that Parliament is supreme. Democracy and the people are supreme and even they are governed by law,” he said.
“I don't agree with his [Anna's] dictation to Parliament. We can't command. We can take the horse to the water, but we can't make the horse drink the water.”