New Delhi: Anna Hazare had nothing against the Congress and was aware of the shortcomings of some of his Team Anna colleagues but “had no choice because the movement would be damaged”, union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said the social activist told him during a “secret meeting” between the two on June 23.
Hazare seems to speak one language when he is alone and another in the company of India Against Corruption (IAC) members, Khurshid said about the activist.
Giving a detailed account of their meeting, Khurshid told the Tehelka news magazine that it had been arranged by their common friends who felt the two should meet “in national interest” as they shared similar sentiments on the issue.
The two spent two hours discussing the issue over breakfast that day, says Khurshid.
“Anna said he had nothing against the Congress and had never sought the dismissal of Congress ministers in Maharashtra. He praised the chief minister (Prithviraj Chavan) and said that he would meet him again.”
“Anna volunteered that he had decided not to tour the country and would not fast on 25 July and 9 August,” writes Khurshid.
When the minister asked Hazare what he was demanding, “he repeated the three issues of the Sense of the House Resolution” – a citizens’ charter, placing the lower bureaucracy under Lokpal, and establishment of Lokayuktas in the states.
When Khurshid explained that the three were “all included with the adjustment on Lokayukta because of objections on state legislatures having jurisdiction, he expressed satisfaction. He merely wanted that very formulation to be expressed in a letter.”
“He then said if the UPA government did this, any dent to its standing in public would quickly be repaired.”
“When I expressed doubts about the intentions of his colleagues, he said he knew of their shortcomings but had no choice because the movement would be damaged. But if they did something very wrong, he was prepared to desert them.”
“He specifically said Kiran Bedi has full faith in him and would listen to him and that Justice Santosh Hegde was very reasonable and good. About Baba Ramdev, he said that the Baba used Anna’s name for support but that their agendas were entirely different.”
“Before leaving, I wondered what to say if I was asked about the meeting. He said there was nothing wrong in saying an untruth for the good of the country. I think he relied on some allusion to Gandhiji. He also said that Gandhiji had said that you cannot always get complete satisfaction in an andolan and should be happy with the substantial success.”
“So not everything sought in the Lokpal was to be insisted upon. Furthermore, the Lokpal was no guarantee of eliminating corruption but it is a good beginning. Even campaigning against a political party is not necessarily successful and he pointed to the Uttar Pradesh poll results.”
“Two weeks later, we sent a draft letter to Anna and received some suggestions of minor changes. The letter that was finally sent was therefore already approved by him. At the draft stage, he even told his friend that he no longer cared if Team Anna got to know of the meeting.”
However, when Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy put the three issues in a letter, based on a draft that Hazare had seen and accepted, the social activist did not agree.
“We still don’t know if there is anything in the letter he disagrees with, except to say he does not accept that he helped in trying to reach a consensus. He seems to speak one language when he is alone and another in the company of IAC members.”