Last August, there was revolution in the air. This August, it’s evolution. There is talk of changing a corrupt, inept through the democratic process of fighting elections. Evidently, they have responded to jibes from politicians on having to prove their strength. Does that mean a party? We don’t know. But clearly for Team Anna, camping and fasting now at Jantar Mantar, politics is not a bad thing. [This piece went to press before the announcement by Team Anna of breaking their fast and providing a political alternative — Web Ed] Politicians perhaps are. What started off as a people’s movement organised by Anna Hazare and his lieutenants is morphing into a political movement with each passing day. But does an agitation led by social activists have it within itself to come to terms with power?
Right from day one, when Kejriwal and his men announced an indefinite fast July 25 onwards, joined later by Anna, it became evident that the government would not engage with the movement against corruption. With Anna’s team virtually serving a chargesheet against the government, and the Salman Khurshid fiasco, there was no room for negotiation or dialogue. But more important, the movement is not seeking anything from the government this time: creating a Lokpal is a demand, but not the mainstay of the movement. In any case, there was no question of political parties coming out in support: with the demand for a special investigating team to probe charges against corrupt politicians across the political spectrum, non-UPA support too was ruled out.
But what shape this change can take will depend on several factors. How long will the protesters hold out? What will their plan be for 2014 when India faces general elections? What will the response of the state to their demands be? The more pressing question is, can the movement really engage with politics? Social activists who embraced power for greater engagement with governance have usually failed badly.
It was not surprising to see that much of Bhushan’s speeches on the opening and subsequent days focused on a pinpointed attack on the other side: he targeted home minister P. Chidambaram and 14 others from Manmohan Singh’s cabinet. As for Pranab Mukherjee, the newly anointed president of the country, his indecision on the many scams that rocked the UPA were called into question. It virtually seemed like a chargesheet against the government.
Come August 9, Baba Ramdev will take to the Ramlila grounds, again, under his own banner. Will he steal the thunder from Anna? The Baba doesn’t seem to have staying power, given the skeletons in his cupboard and his frequent hobnobbing with figures like Narendra Modi. But his power to attract crowds has never been in doubt. There will be some uneasiness in the Anna camp. But then who said politics is clean? Or easy?
The so-called Anna movement (At a Crossroads, Aug 13) was like a Diwali cracker; it created quite a racket for some time, attracting the attention of passers-by, only to fizzle out a moment later. All that’s left as the smoke lifts is to sweep away the litter.
Ramesh Ramachandran, Bangalore
By joining politics, Anna is diluting his stand against corruption, for there is no such thing as clean politics.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
Anna has blundered by calling off his agitation and opting for politics. His social movement against corruption had indeed captured the imagination of the people. But if Anna thinks people will vote for his honest candidates, he’s mistaken: people vote for those who listen and produce results.
Col R.D. Singh, Ambala Cantt
Corruption is not just regular but now it runs in our blood. From bureaucracy to politics, everyone is out there to extract their share of pleasure from someone else’ suffering. The system is not only inefficient but has become inhumane.
The movement was not without errors, infect they made some blunders. But those who plainly opposed this movement definitely have zero idea about Indian life or do not want to improve the current system.
A simple common sense implies that when you are battling one enemy its sheer foolishness to open new fronts with new enemies.
Team Anna failed to realize that Congress/UPA was the biggest hurdle in the path not everyone. There are no two opinions that all are corrupt but inviting fury from BJP, JDU, and everybody else for bad mouthing was grand mistake.
UPA/Congress is in charge of the affairs hence they could move the ball.
In last December when all major parties except Congress came to their one day fast at Jantar Mantar they should have played their cards cleverly rather falling in the trap of Congress propaganda. Congress succeeds converting this movement which was specifically aimed at it into fight between entire political class and movement.
It does not require great intelligence to figure that all parties are against Lokpal but still under public pressure Lokpal was passed in Loksabha.
If Team Anna had continued to build up their pressure without committing serious mistakes Parliament would be compelled to pass it in Rajysabha. Targetting everyone was suicidal. First win fight against the main enemy then turn to rest. BJP, JDU, and the rest Non-Congress parties were assets to their movement but they naively created enmity with them.
Within few months of movement what they achieved was phenomenal. The mighty Indian government was buckled under public pressure to debate and pass the law which was hanging for 40 years. But as an optimist I believe all is not lost rather they can have new beginning. Even if they are able to win 5-7 seats they can make strongest argument with loud noise for Lokpal.
Never before a legislation was discussed and talked so much in public. Perhaps first time, general public came to know about the procedure of law making. From road side chai stalls to high profile glass houses, Lokpal was seen as a glimpse of hope for better future.
Anna may be repetitive in his speech but he is man of impeccable integrity which is now almost non-existen in public life.
Within minutes Anna and his team broke fast, Govt of India taunted them with breaking news on TV screens ‘Govt will not bring Lokpal in Monsoon session’.
It’s a celebration time for entire political class and elites. After all they have collectively succeeded in ‘killing’ an anti-corruption movement. The political class shamelessly showed that Indian democracy is more about numbers and manipulation than any better vision for India.
I made my presence at Jantar-Mantar on 30th July for half of the day and was planning to attend the venue on 4th August for the entire day. But as news came on 2nd August I too was disappointed and confused.
After Anna set on fast I think mood was slowly building up in favor of movement. If Arvind and his team had continued their fast for few more days, as they vowed earlier, Govt would definitely come under pressure. Delhi Police would have tried to remove them and put in AIIMS, I guess with TV cameras rolling all over this could have again mobilized people.
The Anna movement was like the Diwali cracker “ladi.” It made a tremendous racket for a short time attracting the attention of passersby, soon to fizzle out with a hiss and a feeble whimper. All that remains to be done as the smoke lifts is to sweep away the litter, and to move on.
Wo don't doubt the wisdom and intent of Team Anna. However, without entering into the cesspool of politics, they could have achieved ther objective to a larger extent through a relentless countrywide Andolan sans Anshan. Their agitation with no lust of power against corruption provided them a different identity, recognition and respect from the masses but now Anna Party may be one of the hundreds political parties already floating around in the country.
In the present scenario citizens understand that they may not get the right people to rule. But they can certainly demand implementation of measures which can work as deterrents against the corrupt politicians as well as government officials. Therefore, Anna Hazare and his team would do well if they mobilize public opinion and pressurize the government to pass act on their demand of setting up of an efficient anti-corruption institution in the form of Lokpal. Citizens also want institution of Lokayuktas in all states. Further, functioning of Lokpal and Lokayuktas would have to be free from political intervention. But citizens are also aware of the bitter truth is that UPA government as also other parties including BJP are not very much interested in passing the Lokpal bill. Concerned citizens are also waking up to the need for implementation of electoral, police, legal and administrative reforms which would reduce scope for corruption and also the discretionary powers of politicians as also of the bureaucracy.
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