The internal problems in social activist Anna Hazare's team deepened on Tuesday with two core committee members, Rajendra Singh and PV Rajagopal, resigning in protest against the anti-corruption movement taking a “political turn”.
Singh, a Magsaysay award winner for his contribution to water conservation in Rajasthan, and Rajagopal, vice-chairman of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi, were a part of the 22-member core group which guided the movement during Hazare's 12-day fast in Delhi in August, forcing Parliament to pass a resolution supporting his three major demands on the lokpal bill.
Their sudden decision to quit added to the woes of the team, which is battling the crisis arising from key member Prashant Bhushan’s remarks advocating a plebiscite in Kashmir. Hazare, who has been on a vow of silence since Sunday, took a dig at Bhushan without naming him.
He wrote in his blog: “Some people talk incoherent things about Kashmir-related issues… and this is unfortunate.”
The increasing internal feuds might make it difficult for Hazare to hold together a team of individuals who have strong and divergent views on various issues but had united under a single umbrella only on the anti-corruption issue.
Singh, popularly known as the Waterman, said, “I dissociate myself from the team. It is turning political. There were statements indicating this, including that on Hisar.”He was referring to the recent bypolls in the Haryana Lok Sabha constituency, where Arvind Kejriwal and others campaigned against the Congress.
Rajagopal said the decision to campaign in the Hisar byelection was not discussed by the core committee. “Every individual was speaking and there was no core committee decision on Hisar. I will have difficulty in owning up to the decisions of individuals,” he said.
Key Team Anna member Kiran Bedi did not comment on the resignations but said, “The strength of the movement is the voluntary association of individuals to fight corruption. They are free to join in case they agree with us and the decision to leave is purely theirs.”
Hazare’s anti-corruption protest to press for its version of the Lokpal Bill had initially gained wide support from people across the country.
Who are Rajendra Singh and Rajagopal PV?
'Waterman of India' Rajendra Singh is a well known water conservationist from Alwar district in Rajasthan. Born on 6 August 1959, he won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership in 2001 for his pioneering work in community-based efforts in water harvesting and water management.
Rajagopal PV, a Gandhian activist, is vice chairman of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi and the president and founding member of Ekta Parishad, a grassroots right-based organization. In the early 70s he worked in the violence-ridden area of Chambal in Madhya Pradesh to help rehabilitate dacoits.