Muslim leader out of Team Anna after recording episode

Noida: Fresh cracks surfaced in Team Anna today with the expulsion of a Muslim leader after he was accused of secretly recording proceedings of a core committee meeting but he dismissed the charge and claimed he quit the camp as the group was turning anti-Muslim. High drama was witnessed at Team Anna`s core committee meeting in Noida this afternoon when Mufti Shameem Kazmi, who was associated with the anti-corruption movement from the beginning, was allegedly found recording the proceedings.

Kazmi stormed out of the meeting presided by activist Anna Hazare and announced his resignation to the media outside the venue. "He was caught red-handed," prominent Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal, who was one of the key members to face Kazmi`s ire, told reporters. Presided over by Hazare, the meeting was called to discuss the anti-corruption movement`s future course of action against the backdrop of growing unease in Team Anna over the "one-up manship" of yoga guru Ramdev, with whom they had stitched an alliance to fight for the cause.

Team Anna sought to put the blame on all news leaks on the deliberations of its previous meetings to Kazmi and said they were astonished earlier how media was getting details of the meetings while it was underway. Claiming that he does not know how to record a conversation using a mobile phone, Kazmi claimed that Hazare was unhappy with the team and that Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia were trying to run the movement like a "private limited company".

Kejriwal said the allegations does not deserve any reaction from their side. "The Core Committee was on and one of us noticed that Kazmi was recording the proceedings. We got hold of his phone and found that there were three clips of recording. We sought his explanation but he walked out in a huff," another Team Anna member Kumar Vishwas said.

"On earlier occasions also, the details of the meeting were coming on media even when the deliberations were on. We were wondering who was behind it. This is a breach of confidence. Anna asked him to stay away from the next few meetings but he came out and said something else," he said. Team Anna sources said it was Akhil Gogoi and Gopal Rai who found Kazmi recording the deliberations and brought it to the committee`s notice. He was carrying two mobile phones.

Kazmi also alleged that Sisodia and lawyer Prashant Bhushan have electoral ambitions and were trying to win a seat in Himachal Pradesh and there were heated discussion about these in today`s Core Committee meeting. Earlier, Agnivesh had to leave Team Anna after a video clipping purportedly showed him talking against Hazare. Agnivesh was in the eye of a storm soon after Hazare`s 12-day hunger strike in August last year when an anonymous video showed the activist talking to an unidentified person and asking him to deal sternly with Team Anna.

Two prominent activists P V Rajagopal and Rajinder Singh had quit the team due to differences over the way in which decisions were taken. The fresh trouble came at a time when Team Anna is uneasy about its tie up with yoga guru Ramdev, whom they suspect is showing "one-upmanship". Activist Kiran Bedi, a Team Anna member, termed the developments as "unfortunate" and said the information was being passed on to the media. "He was found recording the discussions unauthorisedly. It was deleted," she said.

Prashant Bhushan claimed that Kazmi used to go out during meetings. "Why was he doing it? This is breach of trust. When confronted, he told us that he didn`t know how to record it and that the recording button might have been accidentally switched on," he said. "If he committed a mistake, he should have accepted it and there is no point in getting angry," the lawyer said. On his part, Kazmi alleged that Kejriwal and Sisodia were running the show on their own like "authoritarians".

"I was a Muslim member in Team Anna Core Committee and I am out of it now. They don`t want Muslims in it. I tried to bring more Muslims into it," he said. Kazmi said, "I have been with the movement since its beginning. Anna is a good man. Kejriwal and Sisodia are using Anna Hazare for their own purpose." Rebutting Kazmi`s allegations, Team Anna member Shazia Ilmi said he could not take refuge under religion for his "wrong" act.

"Using religion for your defence is not acceptable. What he did was wrong and it would remain wrong even if he is not a Muslim," she said. Ilmi said, "It (recording) was a very unethical thing to do. Anna has asked Kazmi to exercise restraint as he was very upset over the entire recording episode. He (Kazmi) had been relaying the recordings outside." Asked whether he was miffed with Team Anna`s association with Ramdev, Kazmi said he was not against taking the yoga guru`s support.

"I don`t have any problems with Ramdev. But Kejriwal and Sisodia do not want him because if he is on board, then they will lose their importance. They don`t want this to happen," he alleged. He said he was among the first to be associated with the movement. "The Core Committee is not two people. Kejriwal and Sisodia are not the Core Committee. They have filled the Core Committee with their own people," he claimed. He also wondered how Kejriwal could run the movement when he himself quit his job. Kazmi claimed that in today`s meeting, Hazare asked Kejriwal some pointed questions about auditing of accounts.

"He could not answer. Prashant Bhushan could not answer. Anna was unhappy with all these. These people themselves are corrupt. How will they run the movement," he said adding that Bedi, however, was honest. Kazmi also claimed that Kejriwal was responsible for the Mumbai fast fiasco as it was he who had ensured that Hazare call off his fast. "Ramdev was to come on the third day. But Kejriwal was apprehensive. He felt that Ramdev will take all the credit," he alleged.