Indian Decade

Team Anna Leaders Square Off

With the group now dissolved, two of its senior members look to settle old scores with each other.

The now-dissolved Team Anna’s worst kept secret was played out publicly this week when one of Anna Hazare’s closest aides, Kiran Bedi, launched a blistering attack on her former team member, Arvind Kejriwal. Coming so soon after Anna’s departure, this seemed to confirm suspicions that the Gandhi-like social activist was the glue holding his erstwhile top lieutenants together all along.

Although Bedi did not name Kejriwal explicitly, her tweets left little doubt about who she was referring too. "Ever since [a] few have opted for political route the movement has become suspect in its programmes. Anna needs to step in to direct," she tweeted before disparagingly asking, "Are we a movement for a cause, which was Jan Lokpal Bill, Right to Reject etc or a mass of agitation-ists?"

Bedi was conspicuous by her absence from street agitations in the national capital that were held by Kejriwal’s NGO India Against Corruption (IAC) on August 26. It was this agitation that Bedi targeted in her tweets on Tuesday.

Insiders in the IAC say that the rivalry between the two K’s – Kiran and Kejriwal – has been building for months. Hazare was aware of the tension among his team members which came to the fore when Bedi wrote a letter to him complaining that the funds generated by IAC had not been properly accounted for. Soon thereafter, Hazare publicly lambasted IAC, which had served as the vehicle of his Lokpal (Ombudsman)-related protests since April 2011, and asked Kejriwal that every single penny of the donors be accounted for.

Hazare surprised nearly everyone when, soon after his failed fast at Jantar Mantar last month, he suddenly dissolved his team. Incidentally, Bedi has since shared the stage with yoga guru Baba Ramdev during the latter’s agitation at New Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan earlier this month, which Kejriwal did not attend.