Days after deliberations on the draft lokpal bill by government and civil society members ended in a deadlock, fissures appeared in Anna Hazare's team on Saturday on the course of action it should take.
Karnataka lokayukta Santosh Hegde, one of the five Team Hazare members on the joint drafting committee, voiced his dissent on some issues raised by the civil society group.
He has opposed Hazare's plan to resume his fast from August 16 to demand that the prime minister and higher judiciary be brought under the purview of the lokpal's ambit of enquiry.
"Instead of fasting, Hazare and the team should visit various parts of the country to strengthen the people's movement against corruption," said Hegde, who will not be attending the next meeting of the joint panel on Monday due to "prior family commitments".
He had also differed with the majority of Team Hazare on the issue of quitting the joint panel after May 30. In fact, Hegde claimed he had prevailed upon his colleagues not to close
Magsaysay award winner and member of the joint committee Arvind Kejriwal, however, denied there were cracks in the team. "All of us, including Hegde, are with Hazare. These are rumours spread by the government to discredit us as we have huge public support," he said.
Hegde wrote to Hazare on June 18, three days after talks on the draft lokpal bill collapsed, urging him not to go on fast. Though Hazare rejected the advice, he agreed with Hegde's suggestion of going on a countrywide yatra. "Anna will be visiting different parts of the country from July 1," Kejriwal told HT. Hegde won't join Hazare as he wants to finish his pending work as lokayukta of Karnataka before demitting office on August 2, he said.
Hazare's team issued a statement saying that an impression of differences was being created over Hegde's decision not to attend the June 20 meeting. "Hegde had informed Pranab Mukherjee in the last meeting that he would not be able to attend the June 20 meeting due to prior commitments," it said.