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Anna Hazare must replace his team forthwith

Last updated on: October 28, 2011 15:07 IST

Anna Hazare must replace his team forthwith

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Anna Hazare's whole movement hinges on adherence to total transparency, and if he makes any compromise on this principle, all his following will evaporate, and his movement will collapse, says B S Raghavan

Contrary to popular belief, columnists do not gloat over their cautionary statements proving right. "I told you so!" is not a phraseology that's to their liking. So, I derive no particular pleasure at finding myself vindicated with regard to my observations in my column on the complexion, conduct and character of Team Anna, having watched them closely on the public stage, putting all my long experience to use.

Here are a few of them: "I publicly repent for putting my trust in a group of people who arrogated to themselves the appellation of civil society and began strutting about as the God's anointed to pronounce upon the integrity or the lack of it of the rest of mankind. Their antics remind me of a graphic usage in Tamil language describing the fate of a garland in the hands of a bunch of monkeys.

"....they should not only be, like Caesar's wife, above suspicion, but actually be known for their 'unimpeachable integrity' and also 'should have demonstrated their resolve to fight corruption in the past.'

"But when it comes to themselves, they do not hesitate glibly to put forward alibis, excuses, tergiversations and rationalisations, to argue why they need not be demonstrably above reproach of any kind whatsoever."

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Image: Team Anna consisting of (from right) Arvind Kejriwal, Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi

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'Anna himself is well-meaning, but in great need of advice'

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"Anna Hazare is in serious danger of losing all credibility and goodwill, and being taken to be a mere demagogue. Members of his team are doing everything possible to hasten the process. Anna himself is well-meaning, but in great need of advice in arriving at a sophisticated understanding of complicated public issues." (Team Anna's myopic attitude, Hindu Business Line, August 2).

"Anna Hazare and the members of his team, comprising Prashant Bhushan, Shanti Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, are committing the grievous blunder of disregarding the people's capacity to see through their continued irrational behaviour." (Team Anna in need of counseling! Business Line, October 11).

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Image: Anna Hazare
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
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Most shocking part

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From the most recent published accounts of the deviant behaviour of Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi, it must be clear to Anna Hazare that with members like them in his team, he needs no enemies. Kejriwal has allegedly diverted funds to the tune of eight million rupees received for the India Against Corruption setup to another NGO (Public Causes Research Foundation) run by him, without any authority and permission to do so.

Bedi's inflation of her travel bills in order to supplement the corpus of an NGO started by her is far more serious. Santosh Hegde has termed it a misconduct. It has been roundly condemned by the likes of the former Chief Justice of India, J S Verma, and a distinguished police officer, Julius Rebeiro.

The former has compared it to "picking the pocket of someone and saying that it was for a social cause" and called her justification "more upsetting than her act itself"; the latter has called it cheating. The brazenness of Bedi in persisting with her excuses shows her to be unfit to hold any public position.

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Image: Former IPS office and member of Team Anna
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
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'Anna's whole movement hinges on adherence to total transparency'

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That Anna too should spring to the support of Kejriwal and Bedi is the most shocking part. He is vainly depicting them as victims of character assassination, whereas whoever has exposed their misdeeds has performed a public duty as well as a public service.

Actually, members of the committees functioning under his leadership ought to have placed before him and the public full and complete information on their antecedents and public activities, and all their assets, earnings and expenditure. This would have helped the public form a judgment on their suitability and competence to give advice on such an overridingly sensitive issue as corruption.

Anna's whole movement hinges on adherence to total transparency, and if he makes any compromise on this principle, all his following will evaporate, and his movement will collapse. If he wants to regain and retain any credibility and respect, he should get rid of such callow companions and build up a team composed of seasoned persons of high public standing known for their sense of propriety and probity.

 


Image: Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal

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