The historic anti-corruption campaign to bring about Jan Lokpal Bill has encountered various controversies for the past few days. But Arvind Kejriwal, who is said to be a mainstay of the movement, says that allegations being levied on Team Anna are wanton distraction from the main topic. Kejriwal spoke at length regarding these issues with Dainik Jagran. Excerpts: You are saying that you are not fighting elections, but you are campaigning? But in whose account should the election expense be shifted? There are 25 people in the core committee who all are capable with different personality and experience. They can’t simply nod their heads to yes and no like a machine. Nor are we having any high command. So, there is no harm in having differences of opinions. (JPN)
Your anti-corruption movement got huge public support as it had nothing to do with politics. But now you are also engaged in losing-winning politics?
Any campaign against corruption cannot be non-political. Corruption is a completely political issue. Our movement was beyond politics and power. In Hisar we appealed not to vote for the Congress because the Congress-led UPA government is in Centre. Anna sat on a hunger strike twice for Janlokpal, but the government did nothing except for politics. Now, we have to put pressure on the government which is the politics of public. We are not floating any party nor fielding any candidate. We are not in the fray.
This is our fundamental right as citizens. For example, there is no proper road in your area. You shared it with your legislator several times but he showed no interest. In such conditions, will you not campaign against the concerned person? We did the same thing. By doing this did we become the part of electoral politics?
But non - Congress parties got the advantage. The Election Commission has received complaints that the expense of your campaigning should be added to the accounts of the opposition parties?
This is to be decided by the Election Commission, but we were not supporting any party. According to Anna, there were forty candidates, out of whom he advised not to vote for the one and select the best among the rest.
This is people’s protest not a promotion of any party.
Theoretically this is fine. But the practical result is that the corrupt candidates are getting benefited.
We had made a particular strategy for Hisar. We had nothing to do with winning and losing of a seat in of the Lok Sabha by-election. We wanted that person to win who would manage to get a written assurance from his high command on passing of Jan Lokpal Bill before elections.
You all went to Uttar Pradesh. But did not run any such campaign against the corrupt state government?
Uttar Pradesh is mainly influenced by four parties. Whenever they got chance, they looted the people. Every successive government found to be more corrupt. Only changing the face or the party will not do. Here the main question is if BSP wants can it bring Janlokpal in the country? The same goes with the BJP and SP. The fact is only when Congress wants; it can bring the Janlokpal Bill. So, we will put pressure on the Congress. If it brings Janlokpal Bill, corruption will be turfed out.
This entire campaign was of Arvind Kejriwal or of Team Anna?
This is a misunderstanding as I spend more time on ground level campaigning so I am more visible to people. But the Hisar strategy was first finalized in our working committee. Then a meeting with the workers of Hisar, working committee and available members of the Delhi’s Core Committee was held. Only after this, on October 2, Anna Hazare in a press conference announced the complete strategy. I just had to execute the plan. I wasn’t alone.
Three more by-elections were held, including Hissar. Why you did not go to other places?
There are Assembly elections in so many places. It is not possible to go to everyplace and campaign. But Anna’s appeal has shown effects in other places as well.
Has the Anna-effect generated at the Ramlila grounds faded?
You could have said this when the people had ignored Anna’s appeal in Hisar. You can say that due to the Ramlila ground protest, large number of people came together. But when we went to Hisar with Anna’s thinking, many people came up with different questions. And only after people’s consent, we could keep our stand. Consequently, the Congress could not save its security amount.
Did Anna observe vow of silence to teach discipline to his followers?
No, this is not needed. We respect him so much that he can directly tell us anything. Anna often observes vow of silence. Before he observed vow of silence, I had an extensive talk with him. It was felt whatever he spoke was misinterpreted by media.
Team Anna is facing continuous allegation. The recent being Kiran Bedi’s air travel row.
I want to say, if Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Shanti Bhushan or Prashant Bhushan are guilty, then punish them. Send them to jail, or even execute them. But first bring Jan Lokpal Bill. If Kiran Bedi has done something wrong, send her to jail. But you cannot say that she cannot demand for Jan Lokpal Bill. You can’t divert us.
What will be the future strategy of the movement?
It will depend on what government is doing. We have postponed our campaign till the winter session of the Parliament. We wish Prime Minister's assurance should be realised.
Why is there so much of differences within the Team?
The historic anti-corruption campaign to bring about Jan Lokpal Bill has encountered various controversies for the past few days. But Arvind Kejriwal, who is said to be a mainstay of the movement, says that allegations being levied on Team Anna are wanton distraction from the main topic. Kejriwal spoke at length regarding these issues with Dainik Jagran.
You are saying that you are not fighting elections, but you are campaigning?
But in whose account should the election expense be shifted?
There are 25 people in the core committee who all are capable with different personality and experience. They can’t simply nod their heads to yes and no like a machine. Nor are we having any high command. So, there is no harm in having differences of opinions.