Indian Decade

New Rift in Team Anna?

An angry letter from social activist Anna Hazare suggests a deepening rift among his close supporters.

There are fresh indications of a rift in Anna Hazare’s team – and this time it looks to be very serious. The social activist, who turns 75 on June 15, has reportedly written an angry letter to his close aide Arvind Kejriwal expressing his outrage over undue expenditures by India Against Corruption (IAC), the NGO under whose aegis the social activist has been spearheading his struggle for strong Lokpal (Ombudsman) legislation.

Hazare has also reportedly taken exception to not being kept informed about how much money has been collected from the public, how much money has been spent on what, and why. It’s widely accepted that millions of dollars worth of donations to IAC have been based on Hazare’s clean image. After all, close associates Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi have been running their respective NGOs for years, but neither turned into a public movement as IAC has become under Hazare since April 2011.

This is believed to be the first such letter from Hazare to a prominent member of his core group. Interestingly, the letter to Kejriwal is said to have come after Hazare reportedly received an email from another core group member, Bedi, in which the retired Indian Police Service officer said that the Public Cause Research Foundation should clearly mention how much money is going to be spent on what account.

In his letter, written in Hindi, Hazare suggested too much money is being spent on PCRF staff. He cautioned Kejriwal that the funds have come from the public, and thus the money should be spent judiciously. The PCRF is a Delhi-based NGO set up by Kejriwal in 2006.

Hazare also pointed out that there has been no meeting of the core committee since August 16, while voicing frustration over the fact that apparently no details of funds collected nor expenses incurred have been provided either to himself or the core committee.