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Team Anna to meet today as new panel demand crops up

delhi Updated: Oct 29, 2011 08:54 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
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The Team Anna core committee is likely to recommend its own dissolution at its crucial meeting on Saturday and authorise Anna Hazare to put in place a new arrangement.

The anti-corruption movement that had shaken up the government only a few weeks ago is now facing its stiffest challenge from within as its key members had been charged with corruption and authoritarianism.

The meeting comes in the wake of allegations of financial impropriety against IAC members Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi and the attack on another member, Prashant Bhushan, by right-wing activists over his comment suggesting a plebiscite on the Kashmir issue.

The meeting, being watched keenly in political circles, would begin at the office of the Public Cause Research Foundation - a trust run by Kejriwal - in suburban Ghaziabad town at 11 am and will discuss the "smear campaign against the movement, said an IAC spokesperson.

While two members, former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde and social activist Medha Patkar, have decided to stay away from Saturday’s meeting, a third, Kumar Vishwas, wrote an open letter to Hazare, calling for broad-basing the core committee.

Saturday’s meeting will also test the group’s grit amid charges against three of its senior leaders. While Arvind Kejriwal faces a government deadline to repay more than Rs9 lakh he owes to it and Kiran Bedi admitted to have claimed inflated travel reimbursements, Prashant Bhushan got brickbats for his support for a plebiscite in Kashmir.

Vishwas's letter urged Hazare “to suspend the present core committee and create a new system to enable us to see a corruption-free new India”. The letter is being seen as part of the strategy to bring back the focus on the lokpal bill.

Vishwas appears to have the backing of majority of the core committee members, who are likely to accept his suggestion of authorising Hazare to reconstitute the team.

In a related development, Hazare's Pune based official blogger, Raju Parulekar, hinted that the core committee might be expanded. He said working and steering committees would also be in place soon.

The embattled Team Anna received a fresh salvo from a former member, Magsasay Award winner water conservationist Rajendra Singh, who accused Kejriwal and Bedi of refusing to listen to concerns over the campaign against corruption being turned into opposition to a particular political party.

"During Anna's fast, I felt many times that the campaign was turning political and we warned against it. But, they (Kejriwal and Bedi) were not willing to listen. We didn’t make it an issue as it would have harmed the campaign," he told HT.

But, Singh is willing to forget and forgive provided Kejriwal admits that the political campaign in Hisar was a mistake and will not be repeated.

Although the team members were not forthcoming on Saturday's agenda, but it has been learnt that the meeting will cover all the controversies the team has been lately facing.

Cracks in Team Anna | Anna wants to change core committee: Raju Parulekar | 'Suspend core committee'