Team Anna: A MONSTER DEVOURS ITS OWN CREATOR

Published: April 24, 2012 - 19:17 Updated: April 25, 2012 - 17:07

Anna Hazare’s alignment with Ramdev, known to be close to RSS, has yet again pushed Team Anna, staled by repeated flop shows, to the brink

Sadiq Naqvi Delhi

So what are the top secrets being discussed in the secret meetings of Team Anna?  And why is an outfit which is openly demanding transparency in governance and institutions, so uncannily secretive about its meetings and deliberations? 

This is the new buzz in the capital after one of the members, Mufti Shamoon Qasmi, was unceremoniously thrown out for allegedly recording the meeting on his cell phone. Interestingly, the same vociferous members of Team Anna had been at the forefront, asking the government to record, exhibit and broadcast the proceedings of deliberations of the joint committee on Jan Lokpal. 

Qasmi said that Arvind Kejriwal, his associate in his cash rich NGO, Manish Sisodia, and some of their favourites are running the show as if it is a private limited entity. He said that they are authoritarian to the core, plus anti-Muslim and communal. He said he was the only Muslim face in Team Anna, and he too has been thrown out.  “They were uneasy after they got to know that I had a chat with Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav,” Qasmi told Hardnews

Earlier, several people had distanced themselves from Team Anna, including Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey, Ekta Parishad leader Rajgopalan, and ‘waterman’ Rajinder Singh, most of them opposing the ‘politicisation’ of the campaign, the partisan politics of Team Anna, and the relentless authoritarian behaviour of Arvind Kejriwal. The one-sided campaign against Congress in Hissar, to benefit the BJP, and then openly operating from RSS platforms in the UP elections even while not attacking the BJP at all, proved that Team Anna has a partisan political and electoral agenda.

Meanwhile, grave differences have once again surfaced within the apparently faction-ridden Team Anna after Anna Hazare addressed a sudden, secretive press conference with Baba Ramdev in Gurgaon, and announced his total, unilateral support to Ramdev, known to be a front of the RSS and Hindutva forces. He also said that he will share the stage with the millionaire yoga guru whenever their programmes are in synthesis. Surprisingly, this was announced hours before the crucial Team Anna meeting scheduled on Sunday, and none of the Team Anna members were reportedly even informed of the move by Hazare. This suggested that something uncanny and deceptive had been strategised by Ramdev, to outwit and outflank specific Team Anna members. 

Clearly, with dwindling support base, Anna desperately needs some crowd support to showcase himself in the media. Ramdev, however unreliable and with dubious connections, can assure that

There are several points of unity in their worldview, for instance, on Kashmir.  Hazare had earlier openly demanded that Kasab should be hanged in a public square, that those who consume alcohol will be flogged after being tied to a pole, that he is ready to fight Pakistan on the border again. Repeatedly exposed for his arrogant behaviour and crass, aggressive language and threats, Hazare’s deep anti-Gandhian sensibilities, street level aggression and general militaristic urges was finally out when he said, after hearing that Sharad Pawar has been slapped, “Only one slap?” He, later, gave a convoluted explanation defending his rather indecent public stance, which basically reflected his basic character and ideology. 

Indeed, after Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan was brutally beaten up by Hindutva fanatics, with obvious RSS and BJP links, instead of defending Bhushan, Hazare quickly said that he does not agree with Bhushan’s views on Kashmir, and that he is ready to go to the border to fight Pakistan. In both Ramdev and Hazare’s show, the RSS/VHP/Bajrang Dal/ABVP directly and tacitly participated with numbers – this was proudly admitted and claimed by the RSS chief himself, and a top VHP leader.

Hardnews had meticulously investigated and documented these links during the Ramlila Ground show. It was not simply a holy man becoming messiah story, as projected by the media; there was a sinister agenda behind it.

Ramdev’s links with the RSS is widely known, as is the earliest organic links of Hazare with the Hindutva outfit. Much before the cross-dressing episode where he fled the Ramlila Ground hidden in the company of women, instead of fighting the police, the entire anti-corruption campaign had been reportedly stage managed from the outside by known Hindutva supporters. The RSS/Hindutva think tank included a former Intelligence Bureau Chief, RSS ideologues Govindacharya, Gurumurty, etc, who were playing up Ramdev  and the anti-corruption campaign to push the Congress government to the brink, in what seemed a sinister move for a putsch to destabilise an elected government. 

There are fears that Ramdev’s presence on Anna’s platform with 2014 elections as the main agenda could unmask the real partisan driven character of the movement and its linkages to the wider objectives of the RSS and Sangh Parivar

A rabid Hindutva fanatic, famous for her hate speeches against minorities, and one of the key actors behind the Babri Masjid demolition, Sadhvi Rithambara,  among other so called sants and priests, shared the dias with Ramdev at Ramlila Ground. He praised her and called her ‘Didi’. Others who expressed direct solidarity with him were her esteemed colleagues in the demolition -- Ashok Singhal and Uma Bharati -- clearly exposing the sleazy Hindutva package being unfolded by Ramdev. 

It is therefore ironical that Anna Hazare has no problem in sharing a communal platform, and a deceptive campaign, with Ramdev. Even on the plank of corruption there are uncanny allegations stalking the millionaire businessman cum guru, with apparent enforcement directorate inquiries. His close aide’s credentials are also under a cloud. 

Many members of Team Anna, which has till now tried all kinds of gimmicks in veiling themselves as secular, don’t seem to be completely convinced with this new strategy of the veteran Gandhian. There is a feeling that Hazare bypassed core members Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan before going public with his decision to realign with Ramdev. Till now, Ramdev was kept at an arm’s length, at least in public. Although there was an alignment of sorts, but Hazare was dissuaded from sharing a stage with Ramdev by the mastermind of this meticulously engineered campaign, called as ‘ring leader’ by certain civil society activists. 

There are fears that Ramdev’s presence on Anna’s platform with 2014 elections as the main agenda could unmask the real partisan and electorally driven character of the movement and its linkages to the wider objectives of the RSS and Sangh Parivar. Also, there is the fear that Ramdev, with his massive support base of yoga followers, could hijack the campaign as was witnessed in the first edition of the fast in April last year.  Clearly, with dwindling support base and a total flop show in Mumbai, Anna desperately needs some crowd support to showcase himself in the media and challenge the government. Ramdev, however unreliable and with dubious connections, can assure that.

After the Mumbai debacle, they have not been able to stand on their feet again. All their agendas and campaigns have proved to be massive duds and flop shows across the states and inDelhi, even drawing flak from the very middle class that came out in support during the silvery days of media glory

Moreover, a certain core committee member seems to be still confused even after being publicly reprimanded and alienated for his ideological leanings which at times do not fit into the Hindutva scheme of things. A close confidante of Ramdev confides that it is this member who is opposed to the deal with the yoga guru. Moreover, Medha Patkar, too, has expressed unease and has asked Ramdev to come clean on his land deals. Under flak from radical groups within the civil society movement for blindly toeing the Anna line, she too has been pretending to keep a critical distance from the campaign. 

Interestingly, in what is a typical signature Team Anna style to keep the confusion alive, the group has again reiterated that no RSS or VHP leader will be allowed on the stage even as observers are convinced that this whole campaign is a rightwing conspiracy.  After the Mumbai debacle when the crowds eluded them, they have not been able to stand on their feet again. All their agendas and campaigns have proved to be massive duds and flop shows across the states and in Delhi, even drawing flak from the very middle class that came out in support during the silvery days of media glory. 

So much so, that they couldn’t even salvage former Uttarakhand chief minister BC Khanduri’s election to the state Assembly. The massive mandate to the Samajwadi Party in UP, with Mulayam Singh and son Akhilesh Yadav, both maintaining clear opposition to Hazare and team, proved to be a bitter reality for all those who had started to see Hazare and team as a potential force to alter the electoral mood in favour of one party, the BJP in this case.

There is clear unease and no clarity on what their future plans are. Will they remain a pressure group in the hands of the rightwing and Hindutva groups, or will some of the members take a plunge in electoral politics instead of watching from the sidelines. This remains ambiguous. However, Qasmi reportedly claims that Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal want to take the electoral route with Bhushan wanting to contest elections from Himachal Pradesh.  Sources say that Kiran Bedi’s ambitions are also quite apparent. 

A rabid Hindutva fanatic, famous for her hate speeches against minorities, and one of the key actors behind the Babri Masjid demolition, Sadhvi Rithambara, shared the dias with Ramdev at Ramlila Ground. Others who expressed direct solidarity were her esteemed colleagues in the demolition -- Ashok Singhal and Uma Bharati 

Indeed, the current crisis in the Hazare camp, despite the muscle flexing by Kejriwal (and unparliamentary remarks recently), reflects on the true character of a shallow movement, without a coherent ideology or belief system, built and manufactured by a partisan media, arrogant, dogmatic and undemocratic and completely detached from the many people’s struggles on the ground in India, openly cynical of the parliamentary process, unilaterally pushing their version of the draconian Lokpal bill which will create another dangerous Frankenstein’s monster. Now, ironically, the monster is threatening to devour its own creator, Team Anna itself.

The Megalomania called Team Anna: http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2011/12/4259

ANNA’S RSS: http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2011/08/4070

Will the Anna Bubble Burst? http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2011/08/4069

Ground Zero Redux: http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2011/09/4109

Anna Hazare’s alignment with Ramdev, known to be close to RSS, has yet again pushed Team Anna, staled by repeated flop shows, to the brink
Sadiq Naqvi Delhi

Read more stories by Team Anna: A MONSTER DEVOURS ITS OWN CREATOR

ADVERTISEMENT