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From Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption stage, Sisodia & Jain now in jail. Here’s what other campaigners are up to

When it was launched in 2011, the Anna Hazare campaign — with its key demand for a Jan Lokpal — caught the imagination of lakhs of Indians and drew people from all walks of life.

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New Delhi: In 2011, an anti-corruption agitation, popularly known as the Anna Andolan led by soldier-turned-social activist Anna Hazare, shook the then UPA government at the Centre and united millions of Indians.

With its key demand for a Jan Lokpal or anti-graft ombudsman, the agitation drew people from all walks of life, saw comparisons with the “Arab Spring”, and got centred at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.

A year later, a split among the key members of the agitation led to the birth of a political party, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), that captured the country’s imagination and rose to power in the national capital in the subsequent elections.

Fast forward a decade — two of the AAP’s prominent leaders are behind bars facing charges of corruption, Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain.

On 5 April 2011, Hazare announced that he was sitting on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar for enactment of a stringent anti-corruption law. He was joined by key members of the India Against Corruption (IAC) civil society group, such as Arvind Kejriwal, who is now Delhi Chief Minister, Kiran Bedi, a former IPS officer, and Kumar Vishwas and Manish Sisodia, both founding members of the AAP but the former is no longer with the party.

Hazare ended his first fast on 9 April but continued a series of fasts pressing for his demands. Over the next year, the movement continued to gather momentum, with a wide cross-section of people — activists, journalists, actors — supporting Hazare on the streets across India.

While the agitation was successful in making the government agree to key demands regarding the Lokpal legislation, Kejriwal insisted that political involvement was necessary to drive changes. Hazare wanted to stay away from politics.

This resulted in a rift in the core group of the Anna Andolan. In August 2012, Hazare announced that he was disbanding his team, and formed a new one, Team Anna 2.0, in November that year. Kejriwal proceeded to launch the AAP the same month. Many stayed with him while others part of the anti-graft movement went on to pursue different paths.

For example, AAP’s logo designer Sunil Lal quit the party and later served a notice to Kejriwal asking him to withdraw the logo from all official works, including the AAP website. Lal said his belief “in the party and its ideology had been shattered”.

Another supporter of the movement, a UK-based software engineer who had gifted the AAP a blue Wagon R car in which Kejriwal would frequently travel, asked for the vehicle back as he was upset with the rift in the team.

Here’s a look at how the other supporters of the agitation have fared over the years.

Also Read: AAP’s filling a big vacuum in Indian politics. Question is how long it can sustain without ideology

P.V. Rajagopal

A Gandhian activist, Rajagopal walked out of the IAC when some of the members decided to take a political turn. His decision was triggered by the group’s anti-Congress campaign in the Hisar bypoll in late 2011, which Rajagopal alleged was not agreed upon in core-committee meetings.

He is currently the head of Ekta Parishad — a people’s movement for land rights — who also offered to mediate between farmers and the Modi government during the 2020-21 agitation against the farm laws.

Last year, Rajagopal was seen at Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Arvind Gaur 

A well-known theatre director, playwright and founder of the Asmita theatre group, Gaur became part of the Anna Andolan in the early days and was seen on the dais with Hazare multiple times.

During the agitation, he handled the cultural wing of the IAC, forming teams of actors to perform street plays. He claimed, according to a report by India Today, that several of his actors had been offered tickets by AAP to fight the 2015 Delhi elections, but they refused.

Gaur separated from the movement after the rift between Kejriwal and Hazare, and was part of the second Team Anna, until it eventually faded. He continues to write and direct socially relevant plays and also has a cameo in the upcoming film Emergency, based on former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s life.

Ranvir Shorey 

Bollywood actor Ranvir Shorey spoke from the dais a few times during the movement, and was captured in pictures with its supporters. While not formally a part of the agitation, he was one of the prominent Bollywood voices who showed their support by being physically present at the venue.

He was also among those who had suggested to the first Hazare grouping to start a political party after ending the hunger strike, as suggested by his tweets.

Shorey continued to support Kejriwal and the AAP for some time, but said in 2017 that Kejriwal and “his coterie” had used the IAC and Jan Lokpal movement to “parachute themselves into the business of politics”.

Nowadays, he often tweets in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Santosh Hegde

Former Karnataka Lokayukta, Supreme Court judge and key member of the movement, Hegde had recalled in 2016, according to a report in The Economic Times, that he and Kejriwal were together for 18 months at the height of the movement. He had also alleged that the AAP chief had not done anything to curb corruption while in power.

He has since been an active critic of Kejriwal and his government in Delhi.

While a key member of the agitation, Hegde distanced himself from statements made by team members, including the need for a plebiscite in Kashmir, and corruption charges against then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and 14 of his ministerial colleagues.

Sri Sri Ravishankar

“Anna movement is making history” — this is what Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravishankar had said in August 2011 in Delhi, when Hazare and his team had gathered for an indefinite fast. He had also gone to Tihar Jail to meet Hazare when he was lodged there after his arrest.

When Kejriwal had quit as CM in 2014 after 49 days in power in Delhi, Ravishankar had written an article criticising the move, and praised Narendra Modi’s “Gujarat model” of governance. In the recent past, he has been promoting the various initiatives of the Modi government.


Journalist-turned politician Ashutosh joined the AAP in January 2014 before the Lok Sabha elections and resigned four years later in 2018. In 2014, he was given a party ticket for the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat.

From being the party’s spokesperson to a member of its highest decision-making body, Ashutosh was seen as a trusted aide of Kejriwal. He resigned citing personal reasons and currently runs a digital media outlet called SatyaHindi.

Over the years, he has become an active critic of the AAP and its politics, alleging that there is no internal democracy in the party. Last year, he tweeted asking why the party had remained silent on the early release of Bilkis Bano’s rapists by the Gujarat government.

However, he admitted in a column for NDTV, written after AAP’s Punjab win in 2022, that AAP’s “promise of free water and electricity and its successful delivery (in Delhi) has brought huge goodwill (to the party) in the Capital”.

Also Read: Complaint not in right format? No problem, Lokpal will scrutinise it to spot genuine grievances

Shashi Kant

After Kiran Bedi, former Punjab DGP Shashi Kant, famous for his anti-drug campaign in the state, became the second IPS officer to support Hazare in his bid to fight corruption, after retiring in 2012.

He led the IAC movement in Punjab and joined the AAP in January 2014, only to quit in a month citing the “inaccessibility” of the party’s top leaders.

General V.K. Singh 

Soon after retiring in 2012, former Army Chief General V.K. Singh had joined Hazare on the stage multiple times during his hunger strikes. He was among the 22 signatories who had appealed to Hazare to end his indefinite hunger strike, and was later invited by the crusader to become part of the core committee of his non-political faction.

Singh joined the BJP in 2014 and was elected as Lok Sabha MP. He has also been appointed as minister of state in both terms of the Modi government.

Shazia Ilmi

Shazia Ilmi, a former journalist, was one of the prominent Muslim faces of the Anna Andolan, and later the AAP. She put forth the party’s point of view in TV debates. In 2014, she left the party citing lack of “inner democracy and direction”, and joined the BJP in 2015. She is currently a national spokesperson of the party.

Medha Patkar

The social activist and pioneer of the Narmada Bachao Andolan was one of the core members of the Anna Andolan. She was also part of the 15-member coordination committee that Hazare had announced after severing ties with Kejriwal.

Patkar had, according to a PTI report, called Kejriwal and his team’s decision to join politics “hasty”. However, she joined the AAP in 2014 and fought and lost that year’s Lok Sabha election on a party ticket from North-east Mumbai. She quit the party a year later.

Last year, Patkar had joined Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra — a matter the BJP used as an election plank with PM Modi asking at a rally “on what moral ground is the Congress seeking votes in Gujarat when its leader was joined in his Bharat Jodo Yatra by a woman who stalled the Narmada dam project for three decades”.

Prashant Bhushan

Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan was a strong advocate of Hazare’s team entering politics and helped form the AAP. But the tables turned soon after he was expelled from the party in 2015 over alleged anti-party activities.

Bhushan later stated that Kejriwal could “even join hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi” and that he was “totally unscrupulous”.

In 2021, Bhushan tweeted that he was “ashamed to have partnered with and promoted Kejriwal in the Lokpal campaign”.

Bhushan was also seen participating in the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Also Read: On 10th anniversary of Lokpal movement, Arvind Kejriwal has let down those who believed in it

Yogendra Yadav

Activist and academic Yogendra Yadav was among the AAP leaders who were expelled from the party in 2015. A former professor at Panjab University, he joined the IAC and later became a member of the national executive of AAP.

He was seen participating in TV debates, expressing the party’s point of view, and at almost every important AAP event along with Kejriwal.

On his expulsion from AAP, Yadav had written in an opinion piece in 2021: “Our mistake was not in forming a political party — not doing so would have played into the hands of the BJP — but in not being able to ensure that the party stayed on an ethical course. As soon as we realised this, we protested and were thrown out of the party. But enough damage had been done by then.”

He later founded Swaraj Abhiyan and Jai Kisan Andolan and was an active participant in the farmers’ movement of 2020-2021 as well as the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

Mayank Gandhi 

Activist Mayank Gandhi became the face of the Anna Andolan in Mumbai. He was a member of the core committee of the IAC and a national executive member of the AAP.

In 2015, he resigned from the national executive over “losing interest in politics”, and later alleged that Kejriwal had turned the AAP from a democratic party into an autocratic one. In 2018, he wrote a book titled AAP and Down, capturing the party’s journey.

Avinash Dharmadhikari 

Along with Shashi Kant, former IAS officer Avinash Dharmadhikari was the face of Team Anna 2.0. A former freelance journalist, he took voluntary retirement from the service in 1996 and got involved in activism full time.

He had joined Shiv Sena in 2009, but quit in 2011, just ahead of the Anna Andolan. The former civil servant continues to be the director of an organisation he founded, Chanakya Mandal Pariwar, a charitable trust working in the fields of career guidance, competitive exams and personality development.

Sunita Godara

The 1992 Asian Marathon Champion joined Hazare’s agitation in the initial days when several other sportspersons had lent their support, but continued as a key member until 2012.

Godara did not join the AAP, and now runs her own NGO — Health Fitness Trust & Health Fitness Society, based in Delhi. Godara steers clear of political statements on the AAP or the BJP.

Rajendra Singh

Water conservationist and environmentalist Rajendra Singh, popularly known as “waterman of India”, was one of the first to part ways with the anti-graft movement.

He decided to leave in October 2011, when Hazare announced support for Haryana Janhit Congress-BJP alliance candidate Kuldeep Bishnoi as part of the IAC group’s anti-Congress campaign ahead of the Hisar bypoll.

Singh, however, met Hazare during his 2019 hunger strike in Maharashtra.

Also Read: 3 years since launch, Lokpal is a non-starter. Complaints dry up, questions rise over intent

Akhil Gogoi

Assamese RTI activist Akhil Gogoi was among those who broke off from the IAC after some of its members joined politics.

Gogoi had led a state-wide movement against dams and land mafia in Assam. He also protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act and was arrested in 2019. He founded a political outfit, Raijor Dal, in 2020 and won the 2021 Assam assembly election from Sivasagar constituency while in prison.

In March this year, Gogoi attended a meeting of opposition leaders called by the Congress in Guwahati with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Ankit Lal 

Ankit Lal, techie and former social media head of the IAC, got associated with the movement in its early days and would reply to “400 to 500 emails” received on the IAC’s official email address “on any given day”. He was volunteering with the group while working a full-time job. In 2012, he quit his job and joined the AAP full time. He headed the social media and IT wings of the party before foraying into political consulting in 2020.

Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha

Retired JNU professor of sociology Anand Kumar contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on an AAP ticket from the Northeast Delhi constituency but lost to BJP candidate Manoj Tiwari. Ajit Jha, another academic, was also a key member of the AAP, who was expelled from the party along with Kumar, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. Kumar later got associated with Swaraj Abhiyan.

Anjali Damania

Activist Anjali Damania joined the Anna Andolan in 2011, and later, the AAP. She fought the 2014 Lok Sabha election against BJP leader Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur and headed the AAP’s Maharashtra unit. She, however, left the party in 2015.

Damania has continued with her activism since then, going on a hunger strike in 2016 demanding the resignation of BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who was then a minister in Maharashtra, over a land deal.

Ashish Khetan

Ashish Khetan was a journalist who turned to politics when he joined the AAP, but eventually quit the party in 2018, saying he was “disappointed with the politics of Kejriwal”.

As a member of the AAP, he contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from New Delhi seat against Meenakshi Lekhi but lost. Khetan was the brain behind the “Delhi Dialogue” concept, which is said to have helped the AAP connect with voters. From 2015 to 2018, he served as vice-chairperson of the Delhi government’s policymaking body and think tank Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi.

A month after quitting the AAP, Khetan had hailed the Modi government’s Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.

He is currently a professor at Jindal Global Law School.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

Also Read: Arvind Kejriwal’s start-up AAP is the political ‘Unicorn’ of the decade


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