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Rediff.com  » News » Centre's attack against us will backfire: Team Anna

Centre's attack against us will backfire: Team Anna

Last updated on: October 29, 2011 18:46 IST

'Government is using its machinery to defame us'

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In a meeting that lasted over five hours, the core committee of Team Anna on Saturday decided against carrying out any changes for now.

Claiming that the government was misusing state machinery to target Team Anna members, members of the core committee said that this strategy of the government will cost them dearly in the forthcoming elections.

"The fight for the Jan Lokpal Bill is a mass movement led by Anna (Hazare) ji and each member of the core committee and all the volunteers are an important part of this movement. The core committee will not be dismantled even though the government is using its machinery to defame us. There is definitely scope for strengthening the core committee, but dismantling is not required," said Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal.

Reportage: Sahim Salim

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Image: Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan, Kiran Bedi and Anna Hazare

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'No differences in the Lokpal movement'

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Four crucial members of the core committee -- Anna Hazare, Justice Santosh Hegde, Kumar Vishwas and Medha Patkar -- skipped the crucial meet. According to sources, allegations against Kiran Bedi over travel reimbursements and the IT notice against Kejriwal were among the issues discussed at the meeting.

The Team Anna members unanimously accepted Kiran Bedi's explanation, that the business class fare was voluntarily given by her hosts and the surplus amount had gone to the coffers of her NGO.

"We were satisfied with Kiran Bedi's explanation at the meeting. In any case, that matter is between Bedi and the people who invited her. If they feel she has mismanaged funds, then Bedi has already offered to return the money," Kejriwal said.

"In fact, they have told me that they had given me the fare voluntarily," Kiran Bedi chipped in.

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Image: Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and other supporters at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi

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'The money has not been misused'

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Kejriwal was also quizzed at the meeting about allegations of fund mismanagement by members of the core committee.

Former Team Anna member Swami Agnivesh had alleged that Kejriwal has siphoned off nearly Rs 80 lakh. He claimed that the amount, donated by the people to India Against Corruption, had been diverted to the Public Cause Research Foundation, a NGO run by Kejriwal.

"We deny that the money received from the people for India Against Corruption has been misused in any way. From the very beginning, money received by the IAC has been managed by PCRF. All cheques that were taken for the movement were in the name of PCRF. Details of all expenses are up on our website," Kejriwal said.

At the press briefing, Team Anna member and eminent Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan avoided questions about his controversial comment on Kashmir, saying these matters have already been discussed.

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Image: Anna Hazare

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'We will not support the Congress'

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Bhushan had recently been thrashed by right-wing goons for his remarks seeking a plebiscite in Kashmir.

According to sources, Bhushan had strongly defended his view during the meeting, claiming that was his personal opinion.

Team Anna also defended its controversial call to the people of Hisar to vote against the Congress in the recently held elections -- a move that resulted in the resignation of two prominent team Anna members -- PV Rajagopalan and Rajendra Singh.

"The core committee realises that this was the right decision because we had to tell the government that we will not support the party that did not support the Jan Lokpal Bill," Kejriwal said.



Image: Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi are facing allegations of corruption

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'The Hisar decision had to be taken immediately'

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"The call to vote against the Congress had two reasons. One, the party's commitment to the Jan Lokpal Bill should have been made an election issue. The only party which did not give this assurance was the Congress party. The other reason is that the Congress is the party in power and they are ones who can bring the Jan Lokpal Bill," Prashant Bhushan added.

When asked about the resignation of the two members, Kejriwal said they were the ones who could not attend core committee meetings in the last two months.

"I have the utmost respect for the both of them. We do wish, though, that they had not resigned in front of the media and taken up these issues during our meetings. We are all volunteers here -- there are no appointments and there are no resignations," Kejriwal said.

When told that the former members had claimed that they were not consulted before the decision about campaigning in Hisar was taken, Kejriwal told rediff.com, "There is a working committee and there is the core committee. Core committee meets once in two months. This decision had to be taken immediately. Annaji had initially given the call to vote against the Congress and the working committee took a decision on the basis of his call."

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Image: (Left) Rajendra Singh (Right) P V Rajagopal

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'They targeted us in April and they paid dearly for it'

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"We also feel Kumar Vishwas should not have gone to the media with his letter," Kejriwal added.

Vishwas has recently written a letter to Anna Hazare, proposing that there was a need to 'dissolve' the committee as there were a string of allegations levelled against certain members of Hazare's core team.

Kejriwal also warned that the government's strategy of attacking Team Anna members would backfire.

"I warn the government that their strategy of targeting us will only strengthen the movement. There is growing anger among the public as they can see how the government is misusing its machinery to target us. They targeted us in April and they paid dearly for it when ten times more people turned up for the next movement. If they continue this strategy, even more people will respond to our call the next time," Kejriwal said.


Image: A rally in support of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement

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