Scepticism about Team Anna’s decision last week to take the political plunge and launch a party, it seems, was not limited to senior members such as Santosh Hegde and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, among others. Anna Hazare himself had strong reservations about the move, so much so that hours before the August 3 announcement, he circulated a 1940 speech by Mahatma Gandhi entitled ‘Aap abhi tayyar nahin hai ‘ (You are not ready yet) to support his argument.
Sources close to Hazare said that while the anti-corruption activist was convinced that Team Anna’s ‘fasts’ were not producing results and that there was a need to consider a political alternative, he was opposed to immediately converting the movement into a political party. Hazare felt that the movement was not ready for the shift and circulated the Hindi transliteration of Gandhi’s speech among the core committee members present at Jantar Mantar. In the speech, made at the 53rdannual session of the Indian National Congress in Ramgarh, Gandhi had sought to resist pressure from within the Congress and the people to launch a fresh civil disobedience movement to force the British to leave India. Gandhi had argued that his countrymen were not ready to make a success of such a campaign. Although Hazare took a similar line, he was unable to convince his core committee.
“The government’s indifference to the agitation had convinced Annaji that it was now time to give a political alternative to the people,” said Sunita Godara, a member of IAC’s core committee since its inception. “But he also felt that the team was not prepared at all for the same. He felt that before making any such announcement it was important that activists met people in every village and town and worked with them to identify their issues, recognized their pulse and most importantly, form a cadre in each village and city before they made such an announcement.”
“There were issues and questions about how funds would be raised to fight election and how candidates will be identified. He felt that we were not prepared. To convey this he used this speech by Gandhiji,” Godara added.
Other sources close to the social activist said that Hazare was even averse to considering a political option and forming a party considering he has spent a better part of his life fighting politicians and criticizing political parties. “Instead, he was of the opinion that they should find clean candidates and support them in elections. When his views didn’t find full acceptance and a decision to form a political party was taken, Annaji made sure that his name will not be used to promote this political party. That’s the reason he took the decision to dissolve Team Anna almost unilaterally,” said another core committee member who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Allauddin Sheikh, state secretary of Hazare’s Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan, said he was confident Hazare would not ask them to join any political party. “At the most he will tell us to support candidates with good character and a clean past,” said Sheikh.
EXCERPTS FROM GANDHI’S 1940 SPEECH
“Your commander (senapati) feels that you are not prepared and that you are not true soldiers. And if we go ahead on the path that you are insisting, we will surely face defeat. After knowing this, how can I tell you to fight? I know that if I fight with soldiers like you, I am bound to lose.”
“If you feel that you should fight... and if you are confident that there is another way of winning this, then you should go ahead and if you win I would be the first to congratulate you. But if you do not want to abandon me but are also unwilling to walk on the path shown by me and follow my directions, then I want to know what kind of a commander you want me to be.”
“If you are unwilling to take the medicine as instructed by the doctor, then it’s vain to ask the doctor to treat you. If that is the case then I would advise you to find another doctor for treating the disease.”