Split in Anna Hazare's team becomes visible

Followers of Anna Hazare were shocked to see a rift in his anti-graft movement during Jantantra Yatra. Some believe that Anna is being misguided by his coterie, while others see it as an attempt of sabotaging the Anna movement by vested interests. The local organizers of Anna's Jantantra Yatra distanced themselves from his movement and demanded hisab for donations Anna raised.

Rift in Anna Hazare's camp becomes visible during Jantantra Yatra in Varanasi

Binay Singh | TNN | Jul 31, 2013, 04.19 PM IST

VARANASI: It was really shocking for the followers of anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare to see a rift in the anti-graft movement during Jantantra Yatra in the holy city of Varanasi. Some believe that Anna is being misguided by his coterie, while others see it as an attempt of sabotaging the Anna movement by vested interests. The local organizers of Anna's Jantantra Yatra distanced themselves from his movement.

The rift surfaced and deepened further when Anna questioned the credentials of the local organizers of Jantantra Yatra. While Anna accused the local organizers of deceiving him and collecting chanda (donations) in his name without taking any permission, the organizers on the other hand also demanded hisab' (details of expenses) from Anna.

Slogans like Hisab do, hisab lo' and Inqlab Zindabad' were raised by a group of furious organizers and supporters, when Anna along with the retired army chief general VK Singh was leaving for Azamgarh from Paradkar Bhawan after attending the press program on Wednesday. They also wanted an apology from Anna for his remarks.

The row began on Tuesday evening when Anna in his concluding remarks at a public meeting organized in Bharat Mata Mandir premises said, "I am sad to know that some people are collecting donation on my behalf. Do not collect money in the name of Anna." Anna did not use the stage, but he addressed the gathering from the roof of a van. He, however, used the sound system arranged by local organizers. Being hurt by Anna's remarks, the organizers went to meet him at the circuit house on Tuesday night. Again on Wednesday they went to meet Anna to clarify their stand and give details of expenses.

"But Anna was not ready to listen to anything," said Ramdheeraj Bhai, one of the organizers. He, along with the other members of the organizing committee and supporters also went to Paradkar Bhawan where Anna was invited for the press program on Wednesday. But, they failed to put their points and clarifications before him. "In such a situation we cannot be part of Anna's movement. Some people around him are misguiding Anna," said Ramdheeraj.

When asked about the row during the press program, Anna said that the organizers should take permission before collecting donations and also before using his photograph on the receipt. "This is the corrupt practice against which we are fighting, and I never associate myself with such people," he said, adding that the address of the office (Sarva Sewa Sangh, Rajghat) mentioned in the receipt and the websites (www.joinannahazare.org.in, and www.jantantramorcha.org) mentioned in press note were wrong. Replying a query regarding a split in his team, he said, "It is true that the team got fractured, but at the same time the response from common people has been increasing."

"How can Anna say that he does not know Sarva Sewa Sangh where he made visits on several occasions," asked Ramdheeraj, who looks after the sangh. "The local organizers have not done anything wrong by collecting donation, and everything is in black and white," he said, and distributed the copies of income and expenditure of the Jantantra Yatra program among media persons. According to the details, they collected a fund of Rs 29,500 through donations while the expenditure was Rs 94,252.

"If we were wrong why Anna attended the program organized by us," he questioned, adding that Anna should also make his expenses of yatra and source of income public.

There is no way but to collect donation for holding public meetings and meeting other related expenses, said the convener Satya Prakash. One of the staunch followers of Anna on the condition of anonymity said, "Anna is innocent, but he is being misinformed and misguided by some people. It is really unfortunate."