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Rift in Team Anna on Bhushan

Ralegan Siddhi/New Delhi: Notwithstanding Anna Hazare`s clarification on the status of Prashant Bhushan in his anti-corruption struggle, serious differences appeared to have cropped up in Team Anna on some important issues facing his campaign.

Hazare`s latest position that the Core Committee of his campaign will meet and decide whether Bhushan will continue in his team or not has surprised the other Team Anna members, sources said today.

In two days, Hazare has changed his stand on Bhushan, who is in the eye of the storm for his advocacy of plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, thrice, much to the dismay of some of his team members.

74-year-old Hazare had on Friday noon said that the continuance of Bhushan will be decided soon, only to retract following a meeting of Core Committee which met in New Delhi.

Though he did not attend the meeting, the members were in constant touch with him and Hazare issued a clarification in his blog, blaming "some negative forces" in media for spreading lies in his name.

However, the blog posting disappeared within hours, without giving any reasons.

Bhushan had kicked off a controversy through his advocacy of plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. The issue came to fore after three youths attacked him in his office in New Delhi last week.

The real shocker for some of the key members came when Hazare told a TV channel last night, "I am against anybody who talks about dividing the country. I am very uncomfortable with what Bhushan has said. Our core committee will meet to decide on his continuing as a team member. After it meets. I will take a decision." With this, Hazare went back to his original stand of distancing himself from Bhushan`s remarks on Kashmir.

Arvind Kejriwal, who had held a press conference on Friday to announce the decision of the Core Committee that Bhushan remains an integral part of Team Anna, was in Ralegan Siddhi during the weekend to hold meetings with Hazare and the sources said the Gandhian did not discuss with Kejriwal that he was changing his stand on Bhushan.

Kejriwal was not available for comment. Interestingly, soon after the interview Hazare went on a `maun vrat`. A key member of Team Anna said if Hazare decides to expel Bhushan from his team, it would be unfortunate.

Hazare has also tweaked his campaign against Congress, saying he will work with Congress across the country if the UPA government brings a strong Lokpal Bill in the Winter session of Parliament and keeps its words on other reforms.

Hazare has also decided to wait till the end of Winter Session to embark on a `yatra` in Uttar Pradesh, contrary to the earlier decision of hitting the streets against Congress in the state soon after Dusshera.

The decision to embark on the UP yatra was taken last month and was announced publicly. However, the anti-Congress campaign was criticised by some quarters.

The sources said his close aides in Ralegan Siddhi have managed to convince him to tone down his anti-Congress rhetoric. "A number of Congress leaders have visited him here. They are in touch with him. Some senior leaders are in telephonic contact," they said.

Hazare has also found fault with Kejriwal for saying that he was above Parliament.

"Kejriwal has not told me what he has said. But if he did say Anna is above Parliament, it`s wrong. People are above Parliament, not Anna," he said.

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