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Ousted Team Anna member SPEAKS OUT

Last updated on: April 23, 2012 10:46 IST

'Only four members of Team Anna hog the limelight'

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Priyanka
At the Team Anna meeting in New Delhi, Mufti Shamoon Qasmi, a member of its core committee, stormed out and announced his resignation.

In an exclusive interview with Rediff.com's Priyanka, Qasmi blasts the Team Anna leadership.

What exactly happened during the core committee meeting?

Annajiwas in full form. He was asking (Team Anna members) Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia to give an account of the money spent on the meetings held in Mumbai and at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi.

An estimated sum of Rs 28 lakh (Rs 2.8 million) was spent on the rally in Mumbai, and Annaji wanted an account of it.

He also questioned Arvind Kejriwal about the tour to Himachal Pradesh he undertook. Annaji asked Kejriwal if he had put forward his plans of touring Himachal Pradesh before the core committee members.

He (Kisan Baburao 'Anna' Hazare) questioned Kejriwal as to how he could go on such tours without seeking the approval of all the committee members.

Actually, only four members of Team Anna hog all the limelight. In fact, there are nearly 16, 17 people in the core committee, but they are never (seen) in the media. So many people don't even know that the core committee has members beyond 4, 5 people.

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Image: Mufti Shamoon Qasmi, a television grab


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'Kejriwal is very disrespectful about Anna'

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What happened next?

There was some discontent as Kejriwal wanted to know why Annaji had gone to meet Baba Ramdev without telling him.

Annaji is a very simple and noble man, but in my workings with the group for the past year, I feel Kejriwal is very disrespectful about him.

I feel they (Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia) just want to highlight themselves in the media. They just want to have their own way and they are not willing to listen to anybody else.

Were you recording the proceedings of the meeting as you have been accused of doing by Team Anna?

No, I was not recording. My cell phone is never switched off even during meetings. I keep talking on the phone.

I have been with this organisation since its inception. What do I need a recording? It is all in my mind.

And even if I were recording, what is the big deal about it? I have been with this team for one year. I am a member of the core committee.

What do you think is Team Anna's problem with you?

I am not only a member of India Against Corruption. I am also a member of another organisation, the Foundation for Religious Harmony and Peace.

As part of its responsibilities, I keep meeting chief ministers of different states. I had met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on April 17 and I happened to be seated next to (Samajwadi Party chief) Mulayam Singh Yadav on a flight, which wasn't by any formal design. A photographer clicked this and the photo was splashed across a newspaper the other day.

Now they have been accusing me of joining hands with the Samajwadi Party. I have clarified many times that I was merely seated next to him (Mulayam Singh).

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Image: Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal


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'Team Anna is not their private property'

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By saying 'they', you mean...

Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and the other members of Team Anna who are seen in the media often.

So you are saying you did not record anything?

No, I did not.

But even if I did, why is there such an uproar about it?

What transpires in the meetings that the committee members do not want to be revealed?

And how can they accuse me without any proof?

I am also a member of Team Anna. If there was a recording, like they are saying, then why did they delete it? That would have helped them prove that a recording had happened.

On top of that, Kejriwal and a few others accused me of talking about it (today's events) in the open and talking to the press. Why shouldn't I? Are they the only ones who can talk to the media?

The organisation is not their private property. I felt today's incident was a direct attack on my self respect and hence I resigned from the core committee group.

But I will continue to work for India Against Corruption in my own way.

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Image: Anna Hazare with Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia


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'Annaji is very simple, noble and sweet'

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What makes you feel that the workings of the group have turned anti-Muslim or authoritarian, as you pointed out earlier?

Tell me one thing Kejriwal or any of Team Anna members have done to unite the Muslim community with the movement.

I have been pointing out since the beginning of this movement that we need to take steps to bring in the Muslim community to work with us.

Give me one example when Kejriwal has done anything for the community.

In fact, Kumar Vishwas even stood up in the meeting today (on Sunday) and said the movement will not be successful unless and until we get the Muslims together with us.

Kejriwal said to him that he (Kumar Vishwas) was acting as the middlemen for chief ministers. Kejriwal said 'CM ki dalali kar raha hai'.

So you do not agree with the points of view of Arvind Kejriwal and the others?

No, I don't. Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia openly attack democracy and Parliament. I have great faith in these institutions. I feel they have their personal ambitions and they are promoting themselves in the media now.

What was Annaji doing while all this was happening?

Now, what can I say?

Annaji is a very simple, noble and sweet person (pauses)... But the others cannot tolerate anybody else taking the centre stage in this movement.

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Image: Kisan Baburao 'Anna' Hazare


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