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It's important for Anna to become more flexible and respectful


ARINDAM CHAUDHURI | New Delhi, August 18, 2011 16:34
Tags : people of India | Anna Hazare | Lokpal Bill | UPA | Congress | Jai Prakash | Narayan | democracy |

I was too young then to really remember it all; but I have heard from many people that the mass protests generated by the arrest of Anna Hazare are similar to the uprising called Total Revolution led by the late Jaiprakash Narayan in the early 1970s. In fact, it was the Total Revolution and the chaos that followed – and a historic blunder by Indira Gandhi – that led to the imposition of the Emergency in India in 1975. Many people are comparing today’s situation to the Emergency days.

The people of India are so fed up and so disgusted with corruption and our rotten and corrupt system that the wave of protests we see is hardly surprising. I have often publicly called India not a democracy but a demonocracy where crooked politicians and their criminal cohorts are openly plundering the nation; well aware that a dysfunctional judicial system will allow them to get away. In almost all cases, they have actually got away and have hence acquired the arrogance and swagger of pirates who know they are above and beyond the law. To that extent, the waves of protests, demonstrations, candle lit vigils and passionate slogans that are being witnessed across the nation were inevitable. And there is little doubt that the simplicity and stark clarity of the message being delivered by Anna Hazare has convinced thousands and thousands of Indians that Anna Hazare is a modern day messiah. I still remember the Jantar Mantar fast of April when even I was moved to write very strongly in favour of Anna Hazare and even bring out a special supplement on the power of civil society protests. I still think that there is enormous power and truth in the anti-corruption message that Anna Hazare is delivering.

And yet, I must confess that I do find some things a little disturbing. I know, passions and emotions are running so high at the moment that I run the risk of being vilified as a government stooge if I dare criticize Anna Hazare and his methods (Anyone who has been reading my editorials and columns over the years will, I am sure, laugh at the suggestion that I am a pro-establishment man!) . But just as I have often gone against the tide and slammed the government for many policies and actions, I feel strongly enough about this issue to point out to all passionate and emotionally charged Indians some basic home truths about this controversy.

Across India, people young and old are lambasting the government for being arrogant as well as adamant. Often rightly, they are accusing the government of not even bothering to listen to other viewpoints. There is no doubt that some highly irresponsible and uncalled for statements by senior leaders of the ruling alliance have strengthened this perception and further fuelled anger amongst people already fed up with corruption. And yet, if the government is guilty of being adamant and arrogant, is not Anna Hazare guilty of being the same? Anna Hazare and his supporters accuse the government of being intolerant and insensitive because it is refusing to accept their version of the Lok Pal Bill. But are they not displaying similar intolerance and insensitivity when they routinely brand anyone who expresses doubts about their version of the Lok Pal Bill as a traitor and a stooge? How can Anna and his team declare so confidently that it is only their version of the Lok Pal Bill that is perfect and no one else can say anything critical about it? If the government is hiding behind the fig leaf of a ‘popular mandate’ and the supreme authority of the Parliament, isn’t Team Anna guilty of hiding behind the fig leaf of sanctimoniousness? I fully support the right of Anna and his team to criticize the ham-handed manner in which the government is treating the Lok Pal Bill. But I also fully support the right of any Indian to criticize the draft prepared by Team Anna. Surely, not blindly agreeing to whatever Anna says doesn’t make a traitor out of an Indian? Quite frankly, over the last few months, both the government and Team Anna have been guilty of being intolerant, inflexible and insensitive. So many thousands of Indians are genuinely angry because some Congress leaders have publicly abused Anna and his team and accused them of being corrupt. But what has Team Anna been doing since April, if not publicly abusing the Prime Minister, the Parliament, Indian elections and even Indian democracy? And yes, I do agree that many should be abused in the government; but at the end of the day, there has to be a democratic way to it. It can’t be imposed through the dictatorial will of one group just because they are able to rake up popular frenzy. There is a Constitution; there is a court; there is an elected Parliament, and things have to happen as per its guidelines. Anna must protest. But he can’t be adamant about imposing it. Protests have their own effect and change does happen. But it can’t happen without the support of our Constitution and democratic machinery.

As I write this, Anna Hazare is still inside Tihar Jail and adamantly so. Many Indians see this as his indomitable fighting spirit. But come on. The government blundered by arresting him in the first place after imposing stupid conditions on his fast. But mass protests have forced the government to virtually cave in and surrender. It is publicly saying that Team Anna and his supporters can go on fast; it is publicly withdrawing all the stupid conditions. So is Anna Hazare being gracious in victory? No, he is now insisting that he must be allowed to do whatever he wants and that the government must surrender in totality to everything that he is demanding. Meanwhile, thousands and thousands of emotional supporters are at constant risk of physical harm as they protest across India. Is that not adamant, arrogant and insensitive? There is a very thin line separating emotionally charged crowds from violence and tragedy if someone is bent upon using that to create mayhem. Do never forget what happened in Delhi in 1984 and Gujarat in 2002 when people were emotionally supercharged, anxious, outraged and angry.

As I pointed out at the beginning, I was too young during the early 1970s to clearly remember the events that led to the Emergency. But of course, I do know that Loknayak JP is still a revered leader, a Gandhian who fought all his life for a cleaner and better India. Anna Hazare is already being hailed as another JP. But I also know this: many unbiased historians who personally admire JP now openly say and write that his inflexible manner and his call to fellow Indians to paralyse India in protests was nothing short of being irresponsible and short-sighted. Will history judge Anna Hazare similarly?

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Posted By: KK | Gujarat | August 29th 2011 | 13:08
By the time this comment is written, the result is already in front of us.
Posted By: A.J. Akbar | Mumbai | August 25th 2011 | 19:08
Anna Hazare - The Next Gandhi for a Better India
Posted By: Rahul | Raipur | August 24th 2011 | 16:08
This is not a question of twisting anybody's hand. It's a question of bringing a fundamental change change which demands extreme measures in this case. I remember a similar event when the nation joined hands together in 1922 “Non Cooperation Movement “and which was called of because 23 people were killed .The following events led to the death of lacs of Indians and 27 years of slavery. The crux is what is the point of repairing few holes and cracks in a drowning ship? It took 60 years for a nation to stand again against corruption. Can we wait for another 60 to correct it?
Posted By: anjani kumar | Hyderabad | August 23rd 2011 | 10:08
From my point of view, Anna is doing the right thing. All the political parties don't have guts to pass this bill because they and their MPs are completely sunked down in the bottle of corrption. If they dare to pass this bill it means they are putting their neck themselves so that others can easily hang it.
Posted By: Anirban | Choubey | August 23rd 2011 | 10:08
I agree with you sir that Anna Hazare is being a bit arrogant. But I want to point out the "the demand of situation" to curve this govt. who are doing in a dictatorial way against anti corruption movement to guard their MPs isn't demand civil society (also Indian people) to be a bit arrogant about their demands.
Posted By: brijesh rajoria | Noida | August 22nd 2011 | 15:08
This is a great oppurtinity for every Indian to come together to get the best Bill possible and this what Team Anna is doing.
Posted By: Lipi Mukherjee | New Delhi | August 19th 2011 | 21:08
I strongly agree..popularity does not mean one can take advantage. If we can't respect the constitution then we have no right to blame others. Anna hazare's cause can be honoured but not the ways...
Posted By: HARIOM AGGRBHARTI | NEW DELHI | August 20th 2011 | 19:08
Ways I see of Anna Hazare is appropriate because Anna Hazare is dealing with the people who are totally shameless and spineless as far as the loot of huge money is concerned.
Posted By: technophilo | Hyderabad | August 19th 2011 | 17:08
corruption has to be rooted out from our minds... No bill can make any difference unless we change ourselves...
Posted By: Amiya Kumar Sahu | Sambalpur | August 19th 2011 | 17:08
sir, I am totally agree with your unbiased description on this present scenario. But after comparing both the bills don't you think sir Anna's Jan Lokpal Bbill is stronger, though saying "pass my Bill " is wrong. I think Anna and Team should say - pass a very very strong Lokpal bill instead of govt.'s presently tabled Lokpal bill.
Posted By: priyank gupta | Lucknow | August 19th 2011 | 15:08
In love and war there is no compromise
Posted By: madhavi sood | Pune | August 19th 2011 | 13:08
I agree with you Sir. Will corruption really go like this or through equal opportunity and sound education for all? Why is nobody worried about a solution and just raving from rooftops? Where is 'the solution' lost in all thsi hulla bullo? The Govt. should step down and allow Anna Hazareji to see for himself how Parliament run in itself.... Countless voices... countless opinions ... countless powerheads? Where's the action lost in this gimmick being a desh bhakt? So sad, the maker of the constituition must be weeping along with all our great freedom fighters and other leaders.
Posted By: Madhuri Sekhar | Anand, Gujarat | August 19th 2011 | 12:08
I strongly support Anna's views but its a bit disturbing that he is adopting arm-twisting tactics to get the bill passed the way it has been drafted by him without analysing the implications. The emotional outburst of the public may not yield results as expected. It is important that we are more practical in our thoughts than emotional to get fruitful results.
Posted By: krishna kumar | Kerala | August 21st 2011 | 15:08
Anna's team is sacrificing there life only for the cause of people. Just point out which point of Jan Lokpal Bill is defective or derails democracy. It is a counter-check mechanism at all power points of Democracy. Nobody will support the poor people of India like Anna Hazare.
Posted By: Gurcharan Singh Bedi | Meerut | August 26th 2011 | 10:08
I agree with you
Posted By: JATINDER | Gurgaon | August 19th 2011 | 12:08
I totally agree with your viewpoint. Actually apart from corruption EGO will start palying its role.Probably the second fast and movement should have been timed after parliament action. Ultimately the team of expert and lawyers can only formulate the complete bill structure.Now anybody with any negative ref to bill is termed as traitor.

Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017