Social activist Anna Hazare is set to challenge his onetime protégé Arvind Kejriwal by backing independent candidates in the 2014 general elections, some against top leaders of Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The independents backed by Hazare will contest on a poll plank of honesty and probity in public life, similar to the strategy AAP plans to use to outsmart mainstream parties.
Aspirants seeking Hazare’s backing will have to pass a ninepoint eligibility test that incorporates provisions similar to the AAP, such as no criminal record, an oath to honesty and dedication to work for a public cause. In addition, Hazare doesn’t want candidates to be affiliated to any political party to prevent rejects from other parties from getting his support.
The move comes a day after Hazare publicly backed Mamata Banerjee for the Lok Sabha polls. The veteran activist, who led the 2011 janlokpal agitation with Kejriwal as a key member of his team, has had differences with Kejriwal.
A committee headed by Hazare comprising social activist Rajender Singh, popularly known paniwala baba, PV Rajagopal of Ekta Parishad and Yashwant Prakash of Prayas, among others will scrutinize the credentials of independent candidates.
“Hazare ji has made it clear that he would support people who have live a simple life like him and are not linked with any political party,” said Prakash. The new Team Anna has been asked to shortlist independent candidates. The team, backed by former Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hedge, will come out with a people’s manifesto before the elections.