Aug 18, 2011

An Initiative Gone Awry

Anna Hazare and his team is back. This time, presumably, with a greater support and even more rigid demands. When Anna sat on indefinite hunger strike for the first time in April, it was largely driven by a selfless and honest ambition to root out corruption from India and demand formulation of a strong Lokpal Bill. Three months since 73-year old Gandhian rose to national limelight, the circumstances have changed a lot, plenty of political water has flown through various terrains of India.

Anti-corruption movement seems to be have been sabotaged by a self-elected civil society, half-baked political aspirants like Ramdev, and there is an increasing tendency to challenge every damn thing that the Government of India does. Credibility of the government is abysmally low and it is largely being perceived to be the most corrupt regime to have ruled India since independence. But again, one should not forget that perception is built through actions and hence, government itself is to be blamed for its misery. The Prime Minister seems to be lost in his own world, with little knowledge of whats happening in his cabinet. He is a crippled head of the government with little power to exercise and is mostly ill-advised by a bunch of sophisticated law-educated ministers. There is a serious lack of good governance and smart decision-making at the moment.

Nobody questions the sanctity of the cause taken up by Anna Hazare. I was more than willing to extend my support, in every possible way, to Anna when he first undertook fast unto death in April. But now, the current agitation seems to be a clear ego tussle between an arrogant government and a stubborn social activist. Anna's tactics are quite similar to black-mailing and set a very wrong precedent in a democratic country like India. The authority and supremacy of parliament can not be challenged, laws can not be made by 'civil society' activists. Yes, government's version of Lokpal is toothless and incompetent. But, fast unto death is not the only way to challenge the government.

But more than anybody else, it is the central government which needs to be blamed for taking a series of stupid decisions and paving way for such a logjam. What went wrong?

  • Government failed to gauge the mood of the common public. There is popular anger against corruption, which is neither sponsored by US or fueled by RSS. It is a spontaneous upheaval among the masses, which is reeling under a series of infamous scams.
  • Government failed to take opposition in confidence on Lokpal Issue. Anna initiated the movement against corruption in political class as a whole. By excluding opposition from all negotiations, the government made it an Anna Vs Govt Battle!
  • Manish Tiwary, the young foul-mouthed spokesperson of congress crossed all limits of decency while taking on Anna. His personal tirade against the veteran activist has further infuriated the supporters as well as even those who were not very sure of supporting Anna.
  • Arresting Anna Hazare even before he could move out of his house was perhaps a decision sillier than ordering that late night clean up action at Ramlila Grounds. Anna was made to look like a martyr even before he actually made any sacrifice! This move was a typical case of legal wiz-kids taking up wrong political decisions.
In totality, it does appear to be a silly deadlock. Anna Hazare must realize that the ultimate power of formulating and passing a bill lies with the parliament. He can, of course, put forward his view but that should not amount to blackmailing. He has all the legal options open. Yes, protesting is his right, the government was foolish to restrict it. Anna can move to the court and seek relief. Government, on the other hand, must shed its arrogance of power. Because, power, ultimately, is temporary. It should learn a few lessons from what Arun Jaitley said after PM's statement on Hazare's arrest in parliament yesterday.

The Greatest Misfortune of This Country is that it has a Prime Minister who simply does not know how to put forward his views. He is a terrible speaker. Even a sneezing Arun Jaitley and a Coughing Sushma Swaraj can outshine him. This naked reality was on full display yesterday in parliament, when BJP tore into PM Singh's statement. And all he did was to sit and listen!

Oratory skills are to politics what ink is to writing. Anna Hazare, even with strictly okay Hindi, is a fantastic speaker. He speaks his mind and hence, is able to connect with people immediately. Arun Jaitley is fluent both in Hindi and English, his reply to PM's statement was nothing short of historic. Manhoman Singh may not be a gifted speaker but he can at least try. He needs to take bold decisions. He can not expect a Chidambaram to rescue him all the time. These are historic times. Coming generations would judge Anna Hazare, Manmohan Singh and the others on the basis of how well they conduct themselves and put forward their sides of story in the coming days.


  1. very well analysed except fr sm points where i feel anna is nt doing it out of arrogance. All o us knw, it is need of the hour.
    secndly, ashish the legal options u r toking about is a bad idea. This is quite unfortunate but true. Law and order of our country are as good as Manmohan Singh, in d hands of other ppl.

    In a sit. where government sucks and law n order has lost its value, this is the only way out. N moreover, anna is adamant fr a right thing.
    media as olways is over hyping it. other news cannot be ignored.

    And, this situation has only come because people have completely lost their faith and trust in government and LAW! this is the saddest part!

    *srry fr the typo errors!

  2. @Soumya: Thank You for reading and airing your viewpoint. :-)

    Few Points:

    Public has lost faith in government. True. Mainly due to corruption. LAW and judiciary still command respect. This is not a law and order problem, but a governance issue.

    Legal Options are very much applicable because the courts do take immediate notice of issues like these. Judgement can be delivered on an urgency basis.

    I did not call Anna arrogant. I called govt arrogant. I said Anna is stubborn. Nothing wrong with that. Most Gandhians are. ;)

    I am very happy to know your views.. Hope to interact with u on the issue more..Tell your friends to participate too..We are sensible lots :)


  3. @ashish... i liked that you bring out the talk of the town in very precise and appropriate way. However i have some submissions :-
    1.Those all who are protesting ACTUALLY KNOWS what they are demanding?
    2. What is JanLokpal Bill, I asked this question on my profile too and what i got out of it was sheer bandwagon thoughts with patriotic rhyming as all had experienced tortures from Man Mohan Singh personally and you can piss him off by writing posts.
    3. What's the heck is Govt's produced Jan LokPal Bill (in which Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal is also member of committee)
    4. Anna and his team has tried to challenged Constitutional hierarchy by giving their own version of Bill (and it has tonnes of flaws :/)
    5.The youth who is sitting at Tihar or protesting has ever seen JP movement'74? Many of them seems to me there page 3 celeb always ready to give SOUND BYTE whenever camera rolls on them (the things they used to do in Cricket stadiums :P)
    6. I want to ask whether Govt has said total NO to the bill(hell no!)... its lingering on since 1968 now what suddenly it has been termed as KEL EL to eradicate corruption?
    7. and on lighter side

  4. @ Neeraj: I am happy to find you as one of those who seek answers before supporting/opposing the current agitation..

    1. Protests (The current wave) is not just abt Lokpal anymore..Its against corruption in general..and govt's high-handedness of Anna..Police action et all..Lokpal just happens to be a rallying point..
    2. Jan Lokpal is no rocket science..Anyone with average wisdom can actually read and understand the bill..It depends on person's curiosity
    3.Govt's bill is toothless, Anna and team were there on the panel but negotiations broke down on various sticking points..It was one way traffic towards the end..
    4. And giving own version of bill is no way against constitution..U can do it too..and get the bill introduced as the Private Members bill through any damn MP :)
    5. As for sound bytes and publicity seekers..They will be always there..and JP Movement was not bigger than this..going by sheer no of people involved..u can check facts..just numbers i say
    6. Its been in offing since 1978...Thats the problem..its been there in the cold storage..and its suddenly out of the bad coz corruption is at an all time high at the moment :)

    Lets take the debate ahead..Invite more people..

    Thank U for reading mate :)