New Delhi, Sept. 19: The erstwhile Team Anna today suffered what all political parties in the country are accustomed to ' a split.
But in the team's case, the split has occurred not only before it could float a political party but on the very question of whether it should or not enter electoral politics.
Anna Hazare, the mascot of the anti-corruption movement, and some other important activists today parted ways with the Arvind Kejriwal-led group after acrimonious discussions at their meeting here on the issue of the team reinventing itself as a political party.
Hazare, Justice Santosh Hegde and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi were among the notable activists of the erstwhile team who disagreed with Kejriwal, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and his father Shanti Bhushan's decision to enter electoral politics. The parting of ways came after a meeting that lasted nine hours where the two groups had heated exchanges. It concluded with Hazare, Hegde, Bedi and some others telling the Kejriwal group that they were free to form a political party but should not use Hazare's name or photograph for their campaigns.
"It is unfortunate that the team has separated...I will not join any party or any group. I will not go for their campaign. I have told them not to use my photo or my name in their campaign. You fight on your own," Hazare said after the meeting. He also refused to accept the results of the survey that the Kejriwal-headed India Against Corruption had carried out.
Hazare said he didn't agree with a survey done through social networking sites. Kejriwal had claimed a couple of days ago that of the seven lakh people surveyed, as many as 76 per cent favoured the anti-corruption movement joining electoral politics.
"My best wishes are with them (those taking the political path). There is no harm in it. If they think they can get a majority in Parliament, it is good...The paths have been separated. Both of us have chosen our separate paths," Hazare said.
Kejriwal had in August announced that he would not form a party if Hazare did not approve. To this, Hazare said if that was the case, then a party should not be formed but "it is a good thing".
The discussions saw a section of the team alleging that the Kejriwal group "exploited" Hazare's name and stature. Kejriwal's supporters countered it by saying that "people in Delhi have made Anna what he is now".
Reacting to the developments, Kejriwal tweeted: "country is on sale. It is passing through very difficult phase. I will do everything possible for me to save my country."
Bedi, who is opposed to forming the party, tweeted: "Anna finally distances himself from political option. Moves to strengthen the movement. May bring together anti-corruption movements."
Bedi said she did appeal to those members of the team who were keen on the political option to give the movement some more time as it needed to reach out to more people before taking the electoral plunge. "But it appears that they are convinced about their option. This finality by Anna was essential to dispel the mix-up of the movement and party politics," she said.