Anna Hazare‘s new team, formed on Saturday to carry forward the agenda of Jan Lokpal, right to reject and self governance in an apolitical manner, emphasised that it will be distinctly different from the current campaign being run by Hazare’s former associate and India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal.
The group has promised to take the agitation to the masses this time and Hazare has said that after starting the agitation on 30 November, he would tour the nation for close to a year and a half educating people about various causes.
“While taking this agitation forward we will find Dalit leaders and other social leaders and will take their support as well. We will go forward with a humanitarian perspective. It is now time to save the nation,” Hazare said.
Among the demands of the group include a Jan Lokpal based on the suggestions made earlier by Hazare’s group, a right to reject during elections, boards saying how much government officials should work and putting deadlines on government officials to respond to issues.
Foreign companies entering the country should also face the stick from the government, according to Anna.
“All foreign companies should be barred from entering the country…If we don’t do this the future generation will be in trouble,” he said, adding that the preservation of humanity and natural wealth should be the highest priority.
Stating that the campaign would also stay away from organising large rallies like in the past, Hazare said, “Gathering crowds at Jantar Mantar and Ramlila ground is not our intention. The movement will go forward at its own speed.”
With 15 members currently part of it, the coordination committee will have 40 new members within a month.
Hazare announced the 15-member Coordination Committee, which has erstwhile Team Anna‘s members Justice (Retd) Santosh Hegde, Kiran Bedi, Medha Patkar, Akhil Gogoi, Sunita Godara, Arvind Gaur, Shivendra Singh Chauhan and Rakesh Rafiq.
The new faces in the committee are former DGP (Punjab) Shashikant, former IAS officer Avinash Dharmadhikari, Lt Col Brijendra Khokhar, Ran Singh Arya, activist Akshay Kumar and agri-expert Vishambhar Chaudhary.
A notable exclusion was that of former Army chief VK Singh, who had addressed a press conference with Hazare recently. The anti-corruption activist said he had invited Singh to meet with the core committee later this evening.
There was also a question of what the group would be called, given the organisation India Against Corruption was currently being headed and run by Hazare’s former lieutenant Arvind Kejriwal. However, Hazare said they would continue to function under that organisation’s name.
“IAC belongs to us from the beginning. Whether they (Team Kejriwal) give it to us is a different matter. We won’t fight for that,” Hazare said.
Kejriwal also later told reporters that he had no objections to Hazare’s group using the organisation’s name.
More than thousand volunteers have joined the movement and will attend an orientation programme after Diwali, which include sessions on RTI Act and Jan Lokpal, said former IPS official Kiran Bedi.
However, social activist Medha Patkar, also a member of the new coordination committee, said that the group needed more clarity on the idelology and programme stricture and will hold more meetings to finalise one.
Team Anna has also obtained an office space in Sarvodaya Enclave, a posh area in South Delhi to coordinate the activities of the movement. Hazare, with his aides will inaugurate the office tomorrow.
Hazare’s core committee member Bedi said that before IAC split into two in September this year, with one faction backing Kejriwal and the other siding with Hazare, the group possessed documentary evidence against politicians and she had known about it.
“We just had to look for the right time to do these exposes. It is good that they are happening now,” she said.
Bedi added that while a lot of people can do such exposes, they would not yield results as there were no independent agencies to prove the corruption charges and said that their group would fight for independent investigating agencies.