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Team Anna must now imbibe the 5 principles of Satyagrah

 

ADITI PRASAD | New Delhi, March 27, 2012 10:24
Tags : team Anna | Team Anna must imbibe 5 principles of Satyagrah | hale and hearty Anna Hazare | Gandhian's day-long fast at Jantar Mantar |
 

You must be jokingA hale and hearty Anna Hazare, smiling Team Anna members and surging crowds to support the Gandhian's day-long fast on Sunday were a balm for many tired eyes who had given up the anti-graft agitation for dead. Despite many individual and collective accusations and counter accusations of the last few months, the anti-graft crusaders appear to be back in full force, this time setting an August deadline for the government to file cases against its 14 "corrupt'' Cabinet ministers.
 
The Anna movement or the Lokpal agitation caught the imagination of thousands in middle class India because it revolved around corruption – a menace that directly affected their day to day living and perhaps for many even their idea of India. It also appealed to people because of Hazare whose simple ways and earthy wit stood in stark contrast to most modern-day politicians proficient in double speak. More importantly, Hazare caught India's imagination with his self-proclaimed similarity to the imagery of Mahatma Gandhi. Hazare called his movement the second freedom struggle and claimed that his ''Satyagrah'' would continue till his last breath.
 
Barely seven months have passed since Anna Hazare and his anti-graft campaign took India by storm. Those 13 days in August last year were heady ones for middle class India and especially the youth – which perhaps for the first time inpost-independence history saw common cause with a mass agitation movement. Butthe frenzy was short lived. Anna's fast in Mumbai in December last year turned out to be a damp squib with very few supporters. The December debacle, coupled with Anna's ill-health, rumors of corruption allegations against Team Anna members and assembly elections further kept the Anna brigade away from public eye over the last few months.
 
If Team Anna has to win this second round, it needs sustained support of the middle class and specifically the youth. For that Team Anna must go back to the drawing board and re-visit the original Gandhian principles of Satyagrah –which somehow got distorted along the way. If applied in words and thoughts, there is a chance that the momentum of this fresh struggle against the powers-that-be would not be confined to another 13-day media jamboree. 
 
1. Love your enemy: This does not require Anna to dance around trees with Team UPA; but what it does require is for Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi to not balk and get their hackles up every time they so much as spot Kapil Sibal. Love can be a great unifier when implementing satyagraha techniques. Phase one of Team Anna's movement resembled more of a hate campaign against the Congress Party. This time, we urge restraint. 
 
2. Be truthful: Truth is the strongest weapon in any satyagrah. If supporters realise that you have not been entirely truthful, a movement loses steam. With a slew of 24-hour channels on the watch, it was no secret that Anna's December rally at MMRDA grounds in Mumbai was a flop. But Prashant Bhushan went to town claiming that the MMRDA rally actually saw 25,000 supporters attending. A lie, or a stretched truth if you please, is most disheartening and confusing for supporters. 
 
3. Try to win your enemy over: The mantra is to act virtuously at all times so that even your opponents become sympathetic to your cause. So if as Team Anna alleges, ministers in the UPA government were behaving arrogantly towards them, then the trick should have been such humility that would have shamed them into action.Constant verbal battles and that too in full media glare would tar even the most non-violent movement with the same brush, right?
 
4. Don't show anger; instead suffer the anger of your opponent: Arvind Kehriwal’scomments that 'rapists, murderers and looters' were sitting in Parliament at the height of the movement angered MPs cutting across party lines. So did Kiran Bedi’s ‘vulgar’ performance at Ramlila Maidan wherein she enacted and flayed a member of parliament on August 26. If the purpose is to get MPs to endorse a strong Lokpal Bill, beating and berating them will only anger them – not force them to act! 
 
5. Don't lose sight of the goal: Sympathy for a movement can only be built by continuously displaying great strength of commitment towards the cause. When the government arrested Anna, they had rightly guessed that the anti-graft protest would scatter in the absence of a leader. The arrest of Anna became the point of protest instead of corruption. Imagine if the national outrage against corruption had retained the same crescendo even with Anna behind bars? Team UPA would have surely found it difficult to get out of that one.
 
 
 
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
 
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017