Monday, December 19, 2011

Is Anna Hazare boxed by coterie and self-centered persons?

Team Anna at Chennai on 18th Dec 2011
India Against Corruption, Chennai (IAC) had invited Anna Hazare to Chennai to address the Tamilnadu people.  After his acceptance of the invitation, Anna ji promised to visit Chennai via Bangaloru on 18th Dec, 2011.

Many people, irrespective of their state, education, religion and age started admiring Annaji for the past one year, after he took on the Central Government to bring Jan Lokpal.  Everybody, including me, started admiring his passion and will power to take on the Government.  When he was on fast during August, 2011, many of the members from India Vision Group also showed solidarity with him, by skipping one meal, sitting  at their place.  

Socially conscious people at Chennai were eager to have of glimpse of Anna Hazare, when he agreed to visit Chennai.  I have personally seen the enthusiasm level of youngsters.  Around 200 volunteers started working day and night ten days in advance to make the visit of Annaji a memorable one.   All of them spent their money out of their pocket in this process. 
Though there were lot of confusions about the visit of Annaji, these young volunteers involved themselves actively in the arrangement of venue, logistics for the meeting, media relations, arranging accommodation for Team Anna, travel arrangements, police security aspects, website and social media management, live webcasting of the event, sponsorship arrangement, publicity through posters and phamlets, etc.  All their activities were transparent and had frequent meetings within short time to ensure the proper arrangements.  I admire the involvement of around 200 young volunteers, who selflessly worked for the visit of Annaji.

Probably for the first time in Chennai, such socially relevant meeting attracted  ten thousand people at Pachayappa's College, the venue for the meeting.  Due to the efforts of media team, the entire national and regional media were present to cover the event.  While at Bangalore none of the Regional TV Channels covered live, here at Chennai, three popular Tamil channels covered the event live from the venue to reach the entire Tamilnadu population.

Then what went wrong and where?

While, Annaji has triggered the emotions of millions of youngsters across the nation, a closer look of Annaji's visit to Chennai revealed lot of hollowness and arrogance  in their top leadership.  Many people like me, who have been supporting IAC right from the beginning felt that Anna Hazare ji is more boxed by few coterie and selfish people.  Annaji, due to his age (74) not able to  do anything.  I share with you some of my first hand information.

Insulting rural leader

1.  The young volunteers team had planned to introduce Anna ji through Mr Elango, Former President of Koothappakkam Panchayat (a national award winner for creating model village).  Particularly when the regional channels were telecasting live throughout Tamilnadu and because Annaji was focussing on rural development in his speech, this gesture could have sent a right signal to all the rural Tamilnadu.  It appears, in the last minute, the top leaders of IAC at Chennai did not favour a rural man to introduce Annaji and preferrred to show their face through channels.  Mr Elango had come to the venue with his rural people.  But he was not even given the opportunity by the top leaders even to meet Annaji.

Selfish interest of a  bollywood person suppressed public interest.

2.  While Annaji had arrived at 11 AM to Chennai, he was straight taken from Airport to a preview theatre to watch a movie on Gandhi.  Though, there were requests from Chennai Team and also from Team Anna to postpone the viewing of film after meeting the press and the public, this was not allowed by the Secretary of Anna Hazareji.  It appears, the personal interest of some film producer connected with bollywood had taken precedence over Annaji's meeting with the public and press.  Chennai volunteers blame Mr Suresh, the Private Secretary of Annaji for this decision.  They say that Mr Suresh is all powerful and controls what Annaji has to do.

 Losing an opportunity to address Tamilnadu people

3.  Though, the volunteers team wanted to hold the press conference with Annaji at Chennai Press Club  immediately after his arrival, due to this film show, the press conference  was planned at 2.30 PM at the venue of the public meeting.  Though, all the national and regional channels were holding their camera for live telecast at 2.30 PM, announcement came from Team Anna that Annaji was taking rest due the earlier film show, where  he was sitting through and asked the local team to postpone the press meet to 5.30 PM, after completion of public meeting.  Since the arrangement was perfectly made in a secluded place at 2.30 PM for the  press conference, this sudden change caused lot of disappointment to the media.  Team Anna lost a great opportunity to convey their message to entire Tamilnadu live through various channels. To please a bollywood person, they sacrificed a nice opportunity to address Tamilnadu people.

Arrogant behaviour of Kiran Bedi in public

4.  Kiran Bedi who was present along with Annaji  visibly behaved in an arrogant manner with every body, including media.  She was even shouting at the cameras of the media.  While Annaji was on stage, she even had the audacity to say that India Against Corruption movement was started by her along with Arvind Kejriwal and that   Annaji joined later as third person.  Kiran Bedi's behaviour was not liked by many people in the crowd.  Even during the Press Conference held after the public meeting and also during the closed door meeting with NGOs, Kiran Bedi was dominating the entire show. The entire Tamilnadu was watching her arrogance through live telecast.  Even the questions put to Annaji was responded by her, without allowing Annaji to speak.  It gave an impression that Annaji was being used as a show piece to project the individual image of few persons.  

Lack of connectivity to the audience

5. For the first time, they are visiting southern states after the launch of IAC.  Already, people in the south, particularly in Tamilnadu have been considering this movement only as a North Indian movement.  The movement is yet to reach villages and smaller towns. During Annaji's visit, there was a great opportunity to IAC to take the message to villages, since three major Tamil Channels were telecasting live.  Though the young volunteers team had made arrangements for translation line by line from Hindi to Tamil, the top leaders of IAC on the stage did not allow the translation. 

When Annaji rose to speak, an announcement was made that there would not be a translation in Tamil.  Immediately, Annaji started talking in Hindi.  All the channels, who were telecasting, got perplexed.  One of them even stopped telecasting for want of translation, as the rural tamilnadu cannot understand Hindi.  The audience could not understand his Hindi and they became restless.  Some of them started leaving the venue.  After 20 minutes, in a hurry, an arrangement was made to get the Hindi speech translated into Tamil.  Many of the media people and the public felt that it was a sign of 'arrogance' by IAC leaders who were sitting on the stage.  Today's newspapers have also reported about this 'mess up'.

Even when Annaji was speaking, he did not do a home work.  He was speaking as if he was speaking in Maharashtra.  Probably, he did not have enough experience of addressing such massive people in the South or other states.  Team Anna, instead of thrusting their views on the public, could have done some homework on the various aspects of the states, where they are addressing.  

While talking about the second freedom movement, Annaji quoted the first freedom struggle. In that context, he started quoting only the names of North Indian freedom fighters.  Instead, he could have mentioned the names of great freedom fighters of Tamilnadu and got the claps. 

While many of the people who attended the meeting admired Annaji's passion, they disliked the behaviour  of the top leaders of IAC showing arrogance in public even before the media.

Meeting with friends of IAC

6. After the public meeting, IAC, Chennai had organised meeting with 'Friends of IAC'.  They had invited few retired top bureaucrats and some of the social workers who are doing great job silently, to interact with Annaji.  Even during that meeting, Kiran Bedi was dominating in the scene.  Even when some of the senior people were giving their views in the closed-door meeting, they were not listening properly and thrusted their views.

One Mr Balasubramanian (aged 60), a tea stall owner. who has been spearheading a movement called 'Kodambakam 2020' along with hundreds of youngsters was also one of the invitees.  A few months back, on hearing about him, Dr Abdul Kalam invited Balasubramanian to meet him.  Dr Kalam made a reference about his passion when he was visiting Sanfransisco.  Balasubramanian looks very simple.  Balasubramanian asked Annaji a question. "Annaji, today around ten thousand people have visited the public meeting of their own accord.  They are passionate people.  How do you plan to make use of them".  Though, it was addressed to Annaji, Kiran Bedi took the mike and asked him, "Sir, do you know  who is your MLA? do you know who is your MP?  If you do not know, why are you asking this question".  Mr Balasubramanian could not understand the connection between his question and Kiran Bedi's counter question.  

Being a simple man, he did not argue and sat. But he felt insulted by the behaviour of Kiran Bedi. The same simple looking person, who was invited by Dr Abdul Kalam few months back for discussion, was insulted by Kiran Bedi without even bothering to know about the background.  I am just sharing this in public, how Kiran Bedi has behaved arrogantly even with a simple looking social worker.

How volunteers react?

7.  As one of the admirers of Annaji, i felt sad by the behaviour of people around him.  I contacted few of the volunteers who were working for this event for the past many days, taking leave of absence from their office.  Even they shared lot of things.  There seems to be no representation from Chennai in the core team of IAC at national level.  Annaji made an announcement openly in the public meeting, that they were adding members from south.  There is an active volunteers team at Chennai.  They want the core team members with 'impeccable integrity' and without any 'selfish motive' to be selected in consultation with volunteers, instead of nominating one more coterie.  


I had a very great view on the IAC and its functions.  Annaji's visit to Chennai has shown visibly, how arrogant their top leaders, how they give scant respect for the local sentiments, how they do not want to listen to others and want others only listen to them. I also observed 'selfish interest' dominated over the 'public interest'.

I strongly feel, that Annaji is 'boxed' by few dominating leaders like Kiran Bedi, who never allowed Annaji to give answers to media.  
Millions of people  in this country have shown faith on the integrity of Annaji.   On behalf of millions of admirers of Annaji, i request IAC to debate within themselves and come out clean.  

While they preach 'transparency' to the Government, they should be more 'transparent' and show to the world.

Jai Hind


  1. This article is meant to malign image of Anna Hazare more than anything else. The article focuses largely on the shortcomings of the organizers of India Against Corruption in not being able to accommodate meeting & interview requests of local volunteers visiting his speech venue. The petty organizational & event management issues in no way can be used to stamp Anna Hazare as disrespectful to public & public cause. IAC is not a Maywati or Congress funded organization. It works on public support in terms of monetary, human resources provided by volunteers from common public. Anna Hazare will put up a good show in most turbulent weather conditions amongst a public gathering than our Rahul Gandhi's of India.

  2. Dear sir,

    Thanks a lot sir, Much appreciation for effort and caring on IAC chennai.

    I can understand your view, I accept some of your view, but it seems like you simply finds mistakes, If i list out the good thing happened on the meeting, it would take 5-6 pages,Please understand we cannot satisfy all.

    Regarding Kiran bedi mam's action, I received so many appreciation of her action by many, as there were some noise at audience she controlled wonderfully, in Friends of IAC meet too handled brilliantly. As Annaji is 74 years old, we requested Kiran bedi ji to take care in firends of IAC, at that time annaji was so tired.

    some of your points might be better to improve us,but according to me you would have reach us through mail or volunteer, instead of written it in blog.

    Thanks again for your effort,

    Sureshkumar M
    "Humans got life to serve others".

  3. I am sorry in advance if my words sound rude to you, but believe my intensions are not that.
    I have read this Post and want to clarify few Points from my little knowledge.
    1. Nobody has/had intension of insulting anyone.
    2. Arrogant behaviour of Kiran Bedi in public: Go read comPletely Probably you don’t have the clear Picture of IAC History. Kiran Bedi ji is already a well recognized face and doesn’t want any Publicity. Anna ji talks less and his health is not so good, still he manages to visit the Place all over the India.
    3. Lack of connectivity to the audience: Having no Patience in yourself how can you blame to others. The very first line Anna Ji said was “Vanankkam, I am sorry, I don’t know tamil.” There was a Prior announcement regarding translation. The way you(Tamil) PeoPle behaved by walking out wasn’t very resPectful for Anna Ji? And you talk about resPects. And yeah, this is a National Movement but not the so called North Indian Movement. CorruPtion is not less in Chennai from any other Part of the Country. Anna ji has not come to get the claPs in his sPeech for your kind information. He is basically a Marathi Person, so does he sPeak in Marathi too. Anna Ji does not need any language to talk about his work, his deed only talks enough. And Hindi is our National Language accePt it or not.
    4. Mr. Chadru is Part of core team and he is from Chennai.
    This Post seems more criticism than a solution for better India.
    Jai Hind!

  4. Nice to see first hand report of what is happening within TeamAnna.

  5. There have always been negative reactions about this. and many other causes.
    Whatever happens, when we put our souls into the movement, it must only be the movement that's above everyone and everything!!!
    these deviations are minor before what we're going to witness from this movement!!

    If it is felt people around Anna are dominating him, we must understand that these people are no less credible! they've equally dedicated their lives for a better india!! Please let's not keep ourselves with negatives.. let's try to turn it into positive energy. It's as equally an individual fight as it's a nation's fight!! Let's remain focussed on the goal.. and means will justify themselves!

    We fight for Janlokpal!!

  6. Interestingly, most of the comments made by people in the comment section are by the IAC people.
    Since this post got RT a lot on Twitter, it got more hits and so did the damage to TeamAnna.
    Though late, but now INDIA is seeing the hypocrisy of TeamAnna. They are no good than the political parties.
    Kiran Bedi, Kejriwal and maybe even Anna has some vested political interests.

    Surely and without a doubt, TEAMANNA doesnt represent 120million Indians!!

  7. Somebody commented that Hindi is a national language! Is it so?! That just shows the Hindi chauvinistic attitude of members of this movement. It is atrocious to equate Anna with Mahatma Gandhi saying there was no translation when Mahatma spoke and hence there will not be any translation for Anna's speech. If you want to reach your message to nook and corner of the country then you should communicate in the language that is known to the audience. Anna spoke about rural development. What is wrong in Anna being introduced to the public by a person from a village! Perhaps the middle class crowd that supports Anna and is comfortable with some rap music is not comfortable with a rural person sharing the dais with Anna. As to the press meet, the less said is better. One more opportunity lost to reach out the Tamil Nadu people!

  8. Dear Sir,

    I am confident that your first hand information should have been verified before you publish. I respect you sir for all the service you have done but this is a shock for me cause I clearly understand that you have not got into the depth of the issues. I will be more than happy to explain the truth. I can reply here but I feel that you can listen and publish your views / understanding.


    Upendran R


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