Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare may have parted ways with former colleague Arvind Kejriwal and his political ambitions, but India Against Corruption (IAC) made ample use of the Gandhian activists's name during the formal launch of their political party in New Delhi on Tuesday.
All Kejriwal supporters flaunted the ubiquitious Anna caps. The only difference was that the 'I AM ANNA' slogans printed on the caps earlier were conspicuous by their absence. The caps instead held the slogan 'MEIN AAM AADMI HOON' (I am the common man). Senior members of IAC also made several references to Anna Hazare during their respective speeches.
Responding to Anna Hazare’s statement that he would campaign for Kejriwal if the latter contests an election against Kapil Sibal, Kumar Vishwas said, “Why should Arvind fight from Chandni Chawk? There is no need for Bofors to kill a fly, anyone can fight and win an election from there.”
While announcing his split with Arvind Kejriwal few days ago, Anna Hazare had clearly urged IAC members not to use his name and photograph in any function of the party. Though his photo was not used anywhere at the venue - an imposing poster of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri.graced the stage instead -Anna's name was mentioned quite frequently at the event.
Senior member of the team, Sanjay Singh, while ending his address raised slogans praising Anna Hazare. Gopal Rai - another IAC member - admitted to TSI that Anna had requested IAC to not use his name. But Rai nevertheless mentionedAnna in his speech addressing him as Ralegaon ka Fakir (Saint of Ralegaon). Later, Rai also used Anna’s name openly and said, “The value of Anna’s vote is one and the value of each person among 121 crore population is also one. Till yesterday it was Anna’s movement but now it is the movement of 121 crore people.”
IAC's dependence on Anna Hazare's persona was underscored manifold when even Arvind Kejriwal mentioned the former several times during his speech. “Three times Anna fasted and we fasted once but these political leaders did not bring Lokpal bill. We did not have any other option but to form a political party,” said Arvind.
Clearly, it is not easy for Arvind and indeed India Against Corruption to completely sever all ties with the name of Anna Hazare. Somewhere, there is a silent appreciation of the fact that without the pull of Anna's charismatic personality, it may be difficult for this political party to gain similar traction into the middle class psyche as the anti-graft campaign had garnered.
Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday launched his political party but is yet to finalise a name for the outfit. He said that the name of the party will be announced on November 26, the day on which the Constitution was adopted in 1949.
In the backdrop of these statements and effect of Anna Hazare during the first rally of yet to be announce party. It is understood that, it will be very difficult for Arvind Kejriwal and his team to stay away from Anna effect, which they never wanted either.