EXCLUSIVE! 'Annaji succumbs to pressure from near ones'
Veteran activist Anna Hazare's former blogger Raju Parulekar, who fell out with Hazare after the activist publicly snubbed him on the issue of restructuring of the core committee, gives out certain explosive details in this exclusive email interview with rediff.com's Sanchari Bhattacharya.
Please tell our readers something about yourself. Are you a writer/journalist/blogger?
I am a political analyst, writer, poet, artist and journalist. I hosted an interview based show 'Sanvaad' for ETV Marathi. It completed 4,500 episodes. I have also received the RAPA award, and the Rashtragaurav award.
I am not a blogger by profession, but did so for Annaji and in the interest of the nation for a larger cause.
When and how did you meet Anna Hazare for the first time? How did you become his blogger?
In 2004 I had interviewed Anna Hazare for my signature show 'Sanvaad'. It was a two-hour episode whose recording I still have with me. Then there were many interviews of Anna Hazare I conducted in various programs.
In October 2010, Annaji started a movement for which he declared me his 'first satyagrahi'. (Read Anna Hazare's letter to Parulekar written in Marathi)
That movement itself never took place. In April when I was in Bratislava, Slovakia, the Jantar Mantar fast happened.
I was aware about the happenings and movements in Delhi. In between the fasts at Jantar Mantar and the Ramlila Ground, I was in touch with Annaji through some common friends.
But since most of the times I was abroad, so I was unable to meet him. Finally, accompanied by a common friend, I met Annaji at Ralegan Siddhi, after he concluded his 13-day fast at Jantar Mantar in August.
In that meeting, long before he went on a maun vrat, I suggested that he should start writing a blog so that his thoughts can reach out to the people directly, without (former IPS officer and Team Anna member) Kiran Bedi's interpretations on Twitter and (Prashant) Bhushan and (Arvind) Kejriwal's interviews on television. Anna happily agreed to it.
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Image: Raju Parulekar with Anna Hazare
Photographs: Courtesy: Raju Parulekar
'I was never a part of Team Anna'
I was never a part of 'Team Anna'. I met Kejriwal, Bedi and Prashant Bhushan in that historic meeting. But I played a part as the 'media'. I wrote many columns in Express Weekly's Lokprabha, known as 'Detox'.
I played my role as a writer in the movement. Annaji was aware about it, as when we met, he spoke in length about my article.
In my early life I was part of many movements -- leftist, centrist and rightist. I have studied about them in books, but ideologically I am neo-existentialist. Hence, I never became a part of it ideologically.
What was the reason behind your spat with Hazare and his team? What went wrong?
I have already mentioned that in my blog posts. (Read: 'Anna Hazare's Gang of Four is taking India for a ride')
Image: Team Anna members speaking to mediapersons in New Delhi
'Annaji succumbs under pressure from near ones'
According to you, Hazare's aides like Kejriwal, Shanti and Prashant Bhushan, Bedi, Manish Sisodia are trying to further their political ambition. Why do you think so?
Shanti Bhushan was a minister, so his question does not arise here. I haven't met him so won't be able to answer that.
However, the fact is self-explanatory. These three are eager to play vital roles in the upcoming elections in five assemblies. Initially Annaji was uninterested in playing a political role in the campaign, so he did not go to Hisar. He merely supported these four, under pressure.
Initially he said he will not take part in any sort of campaign, and again he changed his mind under tremendous pressure from Kejriwal, Bhushan and Sisodiya. I have observed, experienced these things very closely.
What is your personal opinion about Anna Hazare?
Anna Hazare is a very simple man with fewer needs, but succumbs under pressure from near ones. I have high regard for his 30 years of struggle in the social field.
Image: Anna Hazare with Arvind Keriwal
'Movement getting derailed by gang of four's wickedness'
Do you think Hazare's movement against corruption is getting derailed by these controversies?
I don't think this movement is being derailed because of controversies, but due to wickedness, self-centredness and political ambitions of 'gang of four'-- Kejriwal, Bhushan, Bedi and Sisodiya.
What according to you is the future of the movement? Do you think Team Anna will succeed in getting the Jan Lokpal Bill passed?
These are two different things. The passing of the Jan Lokpal bill depends on Parliament. However, the future of the movement will definitely not be in the hands of the self-proclaimed 'Team Anna'.
This movement is all about awakening of Indian masses, about their rights and their lives. Annaji, and only Annaji, was a catalyst.
Now the movement will take its own shape because awakening of the people is irreversible and you cannot limit that awakening. Ultimately, it will swallow 'Team Anna' and its selfishness and ambitions.
History will take its own course. Who knows in whose hands the leadership will go, but the leader will rise from the masses and not through monarchy and feudal culture.
Image: Team Anna members: Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan
'Kejriwal wants to become an autocratic leader of the movement'
It is often alleged that Anna Hazare is merely the front-man and the movement is being planned and controlled by Kejriwal. Your comments on that?
Yes. Kejriwal wants to become an autocratic leader of the movement. But he is not a popular face in any pan-Indian movement. For that matter, any member from Team Anna's 'gang of four' is not popular in India.
That is the reason why Kejriwal is using 'Brand Anna' to further his political ambitions.
Here's an example: After Annaji decided to re-structure his team after a week I announced his decision to so. But I was later punished and banished. Again Kejriwal -- with the help of Bhushan, Bedi and Sisodiya -- kept themselves in the committee to choose new members of Team Anna.
This mockery of Anna's wish by pressurising him has been done by Kejriwal (Bhushan, Bedi and Sisodiya) for their personal ambitions, thereby rendering Annaji to play a role of a puppet in this whole movement.
'I have a devastating weapon'
According to you, Hazare wants to remove Bedi, Kejriwal and others and reconstitute the core committee. But Hazare has denied having any such discussion with you. What is your reaction to that denial?
Initially, Annaji's activists and then he himself denied my statement about re-structuring Team Anna. What happened thereafter?
I have presented solid proof, and now Annaji has himself announced the decision about re-structuring the core committee the very next week.
Your million dollar question is 'whether Annaji Hazare wants to remove Kejriwal, Bedi and others?' My answer is certainly 'yes'.
Annaji wants to remove Arvind, Bedi and others. I have solid proof. Annaji shared with me and asked me to keep record of his wish which I did. He took a promise from me that if situation arises I will have to make it public.
I am waiting for that situation and condition to arise. If it happens, you will realise whatever I was saying about Kejriwal, Bedi and Bhushan was right, is right and will be right; and Annaji's opinion coincides with mine.
I have kept those proofs safe. They could be in any form; papers, video or anything. But it is Annaji's opinion. This material is explosive so I am handling it with care.
My fellow-countrymen should trust me and have confidence in me and love me for my tolerance as I have a devastating weapon.
I am patient. Before when I declared that Annaji is re-structuring the core committee, I was proved wrong by the veteran activist himself.
From this instance, the lesson should be learned that if Annaji himself denies the above facts and compel me to reveal the reality, there will be serious repercussions on self-proclaimed 'Team Anna' and the psyche of Indian people and Annaji himself.
Image: Supporters of Anna Hazare at the Ramlila Ground in New Delhi