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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Anna, Beware Of The Wolves In Sheep's Clothing

What the fuck is going on in Delhi ? I am not known for proclivity towards profanity, in fact it is just the opposite. However, I can't find any "parliamentary" word to express for what is going on in Delhi now. It must require extraordinary mixture of stupidity and arrogance to respond in the manner the central government did by arresting Anna Hazare and his co-activists in Delhi. If this act itself wasn't outrageous enough,the administration sent him to Tihar Jail and put him in same ward with the person whom whole India at this point of time considers most corrupt. Perhaps the three musketeers of the central government, P Chidambram,Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid felt emboldened after the Ramdev fiasco but what they overlooked is the fact that Ramdev had followers while Anna Hazare has supporters.


However, the current atmosphere and the movement is different from that of April 2011. When Anna started fasting on 5th April demanding the legislation of Jan Lokpal bill it was the begining of revolution of sorts. Here was a relatively unknown septuagenarian, a Gandhian standing up against graft infesting every branch of the official machinery. It was a stand-off between the citizens and the entire political class,it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the entire nation stood behind Anna,something every government would be nervous of. But the grand old party of India would not have been able to rule the country for half a century if it weren't adept at manipulative politicking. It first sought to undermine Anna,discredit him employing expendables to attack and intellectuals to sow seed of discord in the civil society. But as more people joined, especially those with their own agendas, the right wing in particular, it was like a fresh breath of life for the Congress led government.

Anna Hazare's initial demand was quite reasonable. Of course each and every demand Anna made and Jan Lokpal Bill in its current form is not acceptable to many, including yours truly but the unreasonable demand could have been seen as bargaining chip. (impeachment of Justice Sen and upcoming Judicial Accountability Bill are reaisons enough to keep higher judiciary out of the ambit of Lokpal) I had found Anna as worth supporting because he wasn't fighting for personal gain but for the general good and importantly, the team wasn't just passively asking for change, it also had the prescription in the form of the Jan Lokpall Bill. Although a joint committee,comprising members of the civil society and government representatives was formed to draft the bill, what the governement introduced to the Parliament as Lokpal Bill was not even close to what had been promised. In the meantime the government had bought the only thing that can be bought to kill a bill- Time. Ramdev fiasco did hurt India Against Corruption movement but the government burnt its hand too.

When Team Anna resumed protest after the betrayal, their fundamental civil rights were denied to them and the rest is history. This time too, Anna and his activists have maintained their reputation, but some people joining in the movement had their own agendas and even if they were show solidarity with the movement. 

This is where things went wrong. a anti-corruption vs corrupt officials battle was turned into a Congress vs Anna Hazare battle. The moment RSS declared its support to the movement, the Internet was buzzing with right wing ranting in the garb of anti-corruption messages. These rants are not very difficult to identify, they bear common characteristics - highly emotive,low on substance if not entirely fictional, targeting person(s) rather than issues and allegations  impossible to prove allegationse. Regardless of what the issue is, the first salvo would be fired at Nehru-Gandhi family and sometimes with bizarre and even highly insulting allegations. To their perverse self, the origin of every ill plaguing India can be traced back to 10 Janpath. Isn't it sick to relate Robert Wadhera to the current government's decisions ? (a viral video on Facebook) Doesn't the allegation of a buisnessman/son-in-law of UPA Chairperson dictating the government of India imply that our entire political class,including opposition is impotent ? And I don't have to even mention media and social media. Then again what kind of twisted minset would it require to forge a document to "prove" that senior leaders including the PM have huge amount of money stashed in Swiss banks !

If these nutters were just fishing in troubled water,one could ignore them but the problem here is that these propaganda are weakening the main cause, the fight against corruption! It is not fight against Congress or any one political party or person, it is a fight against a vice practised by anyone who is in power. I have no qualms in saying that the Congress is the most corrupt party but we must not forget that other parties are corrupt too and them extending support to Anna is political opportunism. Ironically, while the drafting committee was meeting and the BJP criticizing the government, the latest case of corruption came from a BJP-ruled Karnataka. It was also the first case which gave us insight into how Lokpal/Lok Ayukta could curb corruption when Justice Santosh Hegde indicted the Chief Minister of the state in mining scam. But did the Karnataka BJP stalwart accept the Lok Ayukta's judgment ? Not at all! It took a lot of laptop smashing, slapping and pursuation by the BJP's national level leaders,that Yedurappa agreed to step down,but  not before he declared his successor's name publicly  much to the displeasure of the senior BJP leaders.

Narendra Modi has been a vocal supporter of Anna Hazare but is it because he agrees with Jan Lokpal Bill ? All of us know how much respect Modi shows to extra-Constitutional bodies but what is more bizarre is the fact that two months after he had pledged support to Anna and the bill in April 2011, the High Court rebuked him for not having appointed  Lok Ayukta since 2003 (Lok Ayukta was functional in Gujarat from 1985-2003). Further, the Jan Lokpal Bill calls for protection of whistleblowers but in the above case, the petition was filed by  father of a slain RTI activist seeking information on politically connected mines mafia. As recent as 13th August 2011, Gujarat IPS Officer Rahul Sharma was charge-sheeted after submitting important call records related to Gujarat riots to Nanavati Commission. As a matter of fact, this comes days after another whistleblower Gujarat IPS Officer Sanjeev Bhatt  was suspended. And it is not just whistleblowers alone, those who appreciated them had to face the brunt too as the dismissed head constable,Naresh Brahmbhatt  learnt after backing Sanjeev Bhatt's claim

Now, am I doing the same as the Sangh activists ? Draw attention away from UPA's misdeeds by pointing towards BJP's ? I don't intend to do that because the latter is too weak to pose serious threat to the UPA despite the latter's outrageous conduct. As the Congress learnt during last two elections,if it can capture the votes from the rural India, it doesn't even need to compete with the BJP in the urban areas which incidentally also has the largest number of non-voters and fence-sitters. So, a campaign against Congress in particular would be ill-advised since it takes the focus off the real cause, the Jan Lokpal bill that the UPA is reluctant to pass would love nothing more than a political mud-wrestling. If we really wish a strong anti-corruption law in place and the movement under Anna to succeed, we must take care to avoid playing into the hands of political parties.

For more information visit

India Against Corruption Movement – Code Of Conduct

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