'When it comes to personal issues, we are on our own'

Interview -- Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court lawyer, and Kiran Bedi, former Indian Police Service officer, core members of Hazare's team.

delhi Updated: Nov 05, 2011 21:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

We put five questions independently to two members of Anna Hazare's core committee recently embroiled in controversy - Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former Indian Police Service officer Kiran Bedi. A look at what they had to say...

What will you do if the government does not pass the Jan Lokpal bill?
Kiran Bedi: We will have to resort, once again, to a mass movement. What shape it will take cannot be said now because the movement has awakened the masses and each one of us has realised that we have been robbed.

Prashant Bhushan: We have already made it clear that if such a situation arises, we will be forced to intensify our agitation. Anna and his team members will undertake a yatra of the five states where assembly elections are due shortly, to make voters aware of our demands.

What will you do if the government passes the Jan Lokpal bill?
Bedi: Celebrate, say "thank you" and move on. And wait for the implementation and watch over that too.

Bhushan: If the Jan Lokpal bill is passed, we will publicly appreciate and thank the political parties whose support has led to the passing of a strong anti-corruption bill, like we have done in Uttarakhand. But let me be very clear - we are saying, pass a strong Lokpal bill, not merely the government's version of the bill.

Are you concerned that your actions might lead to the strengthening of right-wing forces?
Bedi: All forces, be they right, left or centre, are not our concern. Our concern is to strengthen Indian democracy and expose the illicit connection between wealth and power.

Bhushan: We don't think so. Anybody is free to join the anti-corruption movement as a citizen of the country, but we are clear that no divisive force will be allowed to share the stage with us or be part of the leadership of this people's movement.

Don't you need a common minimum programme for all of you to follow, to prevent misunderstandings such as the one over Prashant Bhushan's statements on Kashmir?
Bedi: We are a group of strong activists with strong moorings of our own. We came together for the cause of anti-corruption, but that does not prevent us from expressing our own views. We are Team Anna on the mutually agreed issue of corruption, and we are on our own when it comes to other issues, such as Prashant's. Ours is a coming together of free people who value their freedom of speech and action.

Bhushan: I have already made myself clear on this. It was my personal statement and it should not be confused and linked to the anti-corruption movement. We are in the process of finalising a constitution for our core committee, but we do not believe in issuing gag orders to our team members.

What are your long-term plans?
Bedi: Difficult to say right now. But all of us are people oriented and passionate about certain issues. We could carry on collectively or individually. The Right to Reject is on the agenda next. What has come about by Anna's mass movement is the deepening of Indian democracy. This process is irreversible now. People have realised that their vote is finally the vote that works on the floor of the legislature, and that every vote counts.

Bhushan: I would leave this question to Anna to answer, since he is the guiding force behind this unprecedented movement.

First Published: Nov 05, 2011 21:10 IST