On Friday, Anna Hazare and other members of the group distanced themselves from their comrade Prashant Bhushan's advocacy to allow a plebiscite in Kashmir Valley on whether it should remain with India, while Justice Santosh Hegde hit out at Arvind Kejriwal for siding with Congress's opponents in Hisar Lok Sabha by-election.
Hegde, who was a representative of Team Anna in the joint drafting committee on Lokpal Bill, also took a dig at Kejriwal for his remarks that Hazare was above Parliament, observing that such things happen when somebody talks "too much".
With divisions sharpening on whether the group should campaign against Congress before seeing whether the government passes the Lokpal Bill in the winter session, the group also announced the postponement of Hazare's plan to take out a yatra in Uttar Pradesh.
Even as the spotlight remained focused on the brutal assault on Bhushan by right-wing activists who were angry with him for saying that Kashmiris should be allowed to go their separate way if they don't wish to be part of India, Kejriwal issued a statement saying that Team Anna was against plebiscite. The statement also stressed that the solution to J&K problem, which was a complex one, had to be found within the constitutional framework.
Early on, speaking in his village Ralegan Siddhi, Hazare was more forthright in his criticism of Bhushan. "Whatever views he has articulated is not right," he said in response to Bhushan's radical proposal on the challenge in J&K.
Agency reports that Hazare was ambivalent on Bhushan's continuation in the core team led to widespread speculation, leading the Gandhian to issue a statement later saying, "I would like to state here, that besides Prashant Bhushan's opinion on the Kashmir issue, he is still an integral part of our team," Hazare said.
Kejriwal too rushed in to issue a denial that Bhushan could be dropped. "He is an integral part of the team. He is a very respected citizen who has worked in several areas including environment and human rights. He has played a crucial role in the anti-corruption movement also," Kejriwal said referring to Bhushan.
He also clarified that Bhushan had been read out the draft statement before he left for the US.
But as he struggled to scotch the state of equations among leading members of Team Anna, Kejriwal himself came under attack from fellow member of the core committee Justice Hegde for campaigning against Congress in the Hisar Lok Sabha by-election. Saying that Kejriwal, said to be instrumental in Team Anna's decision to oppose Congress in the by-election, "jumped the gun", the retired SC judge said, "I believe (Hazare) movement is and should be apolitical. Even before Parliament could debate the Lokpal Bill, they went to Hisar and campaigned against the Congress. I don't think it was the right thing to do."
In an interview to an newsmagazine, Justice Hegde suggested that in Hisar, there was little to chose between Congress and the candidates its opponents fielded. Emphasising that he was not pro-Congress, he said he did not know much about the Congress candidate in Hisar but claimed that Kuldeep Bishnoi (of Haryana Janhit Congress) and Ajay Chautala (INLD) were not above board. "How then do we ask people to vote against the Congress," he said.
The retired SC judge said there was no specific consultation on campaigning in Hisar and after he raised his opposition, Kejriwal called him to clarify that the plan to oppose candidates had been shared and discussed. "But to my knowledge, that was to be done only if Parliament and parties had reneged on their promise to pass the Lokpal Bill. I had to tell Kejriwal that, as far as Hisar was concerned, we had jumped the gun. Now, what happens if the Congress passes the Bill during the winter session? By the way, it is not just about the Congress, it is the UPA. However eager one may be to bring about change, we should allow the system to work. We should be patient," he said.
He also said that corrupt candidates were in all parties and not just in Congress. "If Anna and the other team members felt compelled to intervene in the electoral process, they should have only asked the people to choose the best candidate. That would have been the ideal thing to do," Hegde said when asked whether he was uncomfortable with the Hisar episode.
Asked about the 'Anna-above-Parliament' remark by Kejriwal, Hegde said it was "unwarranted" and "this is what happens when you talk too much". He recalled that when politicians said that Parliament was supreme, "I opposed it. That is because the Supreme Court can strike down any unconstitutional move by Parliament".
Team Anna members said they feared further attacks against their members and it appeared that this was a conspiracy by the government to take attention away from the issue of corruption.
Meanwhile, Hazare has put off his planned 'yatra' till the end of the winter session of Parliament. "Anna will not say anything now. Wait till the winter session is over. He will wait for the winter session. Let us see whether Congress brings the Bill," Kejriwal said.
However, other members of the team will visit Uttar Pradesh from October 17 educating people about the need for a strong Lokpal. "We will ask people to wait till the winter session and will ask them not to vote for Congress if they do not bring the Bill in the winter session," he said.
On October 17, the team will go to Banda in Bundelkhand and Kanpur and the next day, they will be in Unnao and Lucknow.
Asked why they were not opposing BSP, Kejriwal said, "There is no need for that. Even if Mayawati desires (that the Bill is enacted), the Lokpal Bill will not come. But if Sonia Gandhi desires, it will come in two minutes. So we need to scare Sonia and not Maya."