In the final few days of Anna Hazare’s fast to demand a strong Lokpal Bill, the Gandhian leader came under tremendous pressure to give up his protest.
The entire political establishment , from the Prime Minister to leaders at an all-party meeting, repeatedly appealed to Anna to call off his fast, even claiming at various stages that his demands would be considered by Parliament. Parliament too appealed to him unanimously to call off his hunger strike.
Yet, in the absence of any tangible forward movement – in the form of a resolution in Parliament that addressed his demands, Anna persisted in his fast.
Even some of Anna’s own aides and supporters – from Santosh Hegde to Sri Sri Ravishankar to Swami Agnivesh – urged him to call it off, noting that the movement needed him to be in good health to continue the battle.
But it appears, on the basis of a sensational video that’s been recorded and available in the public domain, that not all of these appeals to Anna were motivated by concern for his health.
In the video, available here, Swami Agnivesh is seen in a phone conversation with, evidently, Kapil Sibal, who was among the government ministers actively looking to sabotage any deal that would offer concessions to Team Anna.
But strikingly, from the conversation that can be pieced together from Swami Agnivesh’s end, it appears that he was actively urging the government not to make any further concessions to Team Anna.
Swami Agnivesh is heard telling “Kapilji”: “Yeh to pagal ki tarah ho raha hai” (It’s like he’s turned mad”).
He then advises "Kapilji" to not make any further concessions since the demands from the other side only keeps increasing. “You should definitely not concede any more ground,” he says. “Be firm.”
Swami Agnivesh says that for anyone to “do this to the government is very bad… Even after issuing such a big appeal, if after even Parliament has asked him, if Anna doesn’t give up his fast…”
The irony is that Swami Agnivesh appears to be aware that he was being filmed: at one point he looks squarely into the camera. But perhaps preoccupied with his conversation, he continues – although subsequently he wanders out of range before the conversation concludes.
The video, whose authenticity has not been verified, appears to suggest that Swami Agnivesh, who was all along coming across as a bona fide supporter of Anna, may have been playing both sides in the final days leading up to yesterday’s denouement.
The video appears to have validated Team Anna's concerns that Swami Agnivesh wasn't entirely above board in his dealings with them. Kiran Bedi noted that “He (Swami Agnivesh) was under suspicion all the time… We kept warning him against these actions. Nature has given us this evidence!”