Swami Agnivesh

The 71 year old Swami Agnivesh who was a part of Team Anna, has denied allegations that he betrayed the team by double-dealing with Union Minister Kapil Sibal during Anna Hazare’s 13-day fast.

In a August 27 video recording that Agnivesh has now decried as being doctored, the Swami is seen talking to someone he refers to as "kapil ji" who he advices not to offer any further concessions to Anna.

Before the scandal with Anna erupted, Swami Agnivesh was seen as a key high profile member of Team Anna. He is famed for his work against bonded labour, particularly in the states of Rajasthan and Haryana. In 1981 he founded the Bandhu Mukti Morcha (Bonded Labour Liberation Front), which continues to raise issues of bonded labour in India. He is still the chairperson of the organization. He also actively campaigns against female foeticide. He joined a two week awareness campaign that traveled across India in 2005.

Reuters

Swami Agnivesh lays a lot of stress on what he terms as ‘social spirituality’. In 1970, he founded Arya Sabha, a political party based on Arya Samaj principles as he himself formulated in his 1974 book, Vaidik Samajvad. According to his website, Agnivesh thinks "faith and spirituality ought not to be of an individualistic or escapist variety. But rather, spirituality should be made into a resource for social transformation."

But despite his social agenda and community work, the Team Anna debacle is not the only scandal to haunt Swami Agnivesh. In 2005, he stated that the Puri Jagannath Temple should be opened to non-Hindus. And in May 2011, hundreds of Hindu priests protested against a statement he made to the effect that the Amarnath shrine was just a stalagmite. He has also made controversial political statements, such as the fact that the United States of America was the number one terrorist in the world.


Updated Date: Aug 29, 2011 16:35 PM