Regret not having recognised that the campaign was propped up by the RSS: Prashant Bhushan
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, one of the leaders of the India Against Corruption movement that vilified and paralysed the Manmohan Singh government and helped bring the BJP to power in 2014, has said he regretted not having recognised at the time that the campaign was propped up by the RSS.
“Arvind (Kejriwal) was aware of it and I have very little doubt of that,” Bhushan said in an interview to India Today TV that was aired on Saturday night, referring to the current chief minister of Delhi who catapulted into politics on the back of that campaign.
The Congress has said in the past that the RSS was behind the movement that painted the then government as corrupt, stalling decision-making as ministers and bureaucrats feared that even bona fide orders might be used against them.
Since the Congress was in power then and had an interest in defusing the anti-graft campaign, the allegation was deliberately glossed over by large sections of the media and failed to gather traction.
The BJP built its 2014 election campaign on the issue of corruption and policy paralysis, which had become entwined. The corruption charges over the 2G allocation, the biggest of the alleged scandals, were thrown out in court but by then the government had been voted out.
In Saturday’s interview, Bhushan was asked if he had any regrets about being part of the movement that had led to the BJP government — which he has described as “fascist”— coming to power.
He replied: “In hindsight there are two things which I do regret. One is not having seen that the movement was to a very large extent supported and propped up by the BJP-RSS for their own political purpose to bring down the Congress government and get themselves in power.”
Asked if Anna Hazare, the face of the movement, was aware of this, Bhushan said: “He was also probably not aware of it. Arvind was aware of it and I have very little doubt of that.”
Hazare has in the past denied that the campaign was RSS-backed.
“The second regret that I have is not having understood Arvind’s character early enough. I understood too late, by which time we had created another Frankenstein monster, so to say,” Bhushan said.
Bhushan was a co-founder of the Aam Aadmi Party that Kejriwal heads but the two had a falling out in 2015 over ideological issues, and the lawyer was expelled from the party.
“I was very, very — exceedingly — fond of Arvind but I was never very critically looking at him in order to see whether he was unscrupulous in his means or not and so on,” he said.
“It became clear immediately after the Lok Sabha elections, one after another things unfolded before my eyes and it became clear that he was not only unscrupulous and dictatorial but he had total contempt for policies of the party because we had formed 34 expert committees to form the policies of the party. After they had given their reports and we had to adopt them et cetera, he said throw them in the wastepaper basket; we will take a stand when it suits us,” Bhushan said.
Kejriwal has not responded to the allegations. AAP and Delhi government spokespersons did not respond to queries from this newspaper.On the condition of anonymity, an AAP leader said: “Arvind will not respond as we don’t want to indulge Bhushan.”