In terms of the peoples' support for the Anna Hazare movement, it is different from that that desultorily shows up at elections. In elections, you do not always get what you vote for, and sometimes, you vote not at all, or vote for other considerations. But those that have supported Anna Hazare's mobilization against corruption have done so unambiguously. They trust Anna as they do not trust politicians any longer.

So this changes some things. Nothing that the government or Anna's dishonest critics say or do against his movement will materially affect it. The government's dirty tricks' department could do its damnedest but it will fail. The government enjoys nil legitimacy today. Equally, this imposes a burden on Anna's team to speak and act in a manner that do not undermine and diminish the movement. In this, Anna Hazare remains the best guide, and his team cannot gain more than by diligently following his ways.

For example, the government let fly against Ramdev, saying that the Enforcement Directorate had charged him with foreign exchange violations. Ramdev is not formally linked to Anna's movement, although they separately spearhead public agitations against corruption. Any attack on Ramdev, the government believes, will produce collateral damage in the Anna camp, and hence the purported ED case against the yoga master.

Purported, because one day after the media played up the ED charges against Ramdev, it turns out there is nothing in it. The ED belatedly says there is no proof that Ramdev's yoga enterprises have violated foreign exchange laws. Then how did the story get splashed? Was the media overactive? Or did the government make haste to slander Ramdev, hoping that a media trial would slay him? The second reason makes more sense, and the government has some serious explaining to do.

But as said in the beginning, the government's motives with respect to Anna -- and by extension, Ramdev -- are suspect. The government has so consummately destroyed its credibility that even if the charges were correct, it would be instantly disbelieved. Nobody believes the CBI, for example, that Dayanidhi Maran was polite, gentle and lawful in the Aircel ownership-change case. The government's contention that Arvind Kejriwal, one of the Anna team members, has unpaid income tax running to nearly Rs 10 lakhs is also likely to be dismissed as vendetta -- which it is.

There is, however, another side to the story. Because the nation's hope rides on Anna and his team, they have to execute their special responsibilities with infinite care, patience and honesty. To an interviewer's question about L.K.Advani conveying to Kiran Bedi, another of Anna's team, about the BJP's support to the movement's key demands, Kejriwal was quoted as saying "communal forces" were not welcome, and they had taken special care to discourage them.

Whatever one's view of the BJP, it is a legitimate political party. Anna Hazare and his team formally approached it for supporting their version of the Jan Lok Pal bill. So Kejriwal's sudden tangential lunge at the BJP calling it "communal" is a little odd. But everyone is entitled to her or his views. But would Kejriwal care to explain how personally canvassing with the Shahi Imam for Muslim support to the anti-corruption movement does not constitute a brazenly communal exercise?

The Muslims were there at Ramlila Maidan, whether or not so-called Muslim leaders like the Shahi Imam supported the anti-corruption stir. If they turned up despite the Shahi Imam's opposition, it tells how much sway he has with the Muslim masses, which is a good thing, because the day Muslims think as individuals, and resist from becoming abused votebanks, deliverance will come. But that remains for the most part a future project. To return to Kejriwal and Advani, how does the Shahi Imam suddenly become a secular figure? People, including this writer, expect absolute honesty from Anna's team (the media coinage, Team Anna, sounds as bombastic and hollow as the Indian Test team), not fraudulent liberalism and tawdry political correctness.

Also, Anna's team should not become thin-skinned about criticism as to speak intemperately. While commenting about Arundhati Roy's trenchant criticism of the Anna campaign, the media quoted Prashant Bhushan as saying she was "jealous" of their success. This may be true, and the same point was made by this writer earlier. But for Bhushan to say that seems utter bad form and not a little petty. The people of the country know the Anna movement for what it is. They have supported it of their own free will. They know who is criticizing the movement and for what reason. It is not for Anna's team to rebut every criticism, especially such criticism as is plainly dishonest.

In this respect, Anna Hazare remains the best guide for the movement. He is so focused in his aims that he cannot be deflected either by hard attacks or by excessive flattery and fawning media attention. He slipped out of an emergency exit of the Gurgaon hospital where he had been recuperating after his fast and reappeared, modest as before, in his village. The underlying and unstated reason for this was clear. Anna Hazare returned to Ralegan Siddhi for spiritual and moral renewal. The spirit of his poor and once backward village still informs his actions, and such a man cannot wilfully go wrong. Anna's team should withdraw into silence and concentrate on the great unfinished tasks at hand.