Sunday, August 05, 2012

Anna has disappointed people

Anna has disappointed people - Col RD Singh
05 August, 2012
Pictures and Videos: Amar Singh Jyani, GS Mann.
Anna has disappointed people!
On 25 July, when Anna Hazare started his agitation at Jantar Mantar, he declared “It is a do or die crusade”. Three of his core team members went on an indefinite fast on the very first day, and Anna himself took to fast unto death on 29 July.  Suddenly he gave a jolt to his supports by calling off the agitation midway, on 03 August. Anna and his team decided to go political and offer a political alternative in the forthcoming 2014 general elections. Such a move was not expected from Anna who had been all along bombarding the politicians as corrupt, criminals, and selfish. I had spent a day with him at the Ramlila Maidan in August last year. He had touched the cord of the people who found in him a strong voice to fight corruption and black money. People saw in him a reflection of JP and Gandhiji. The govt was also moved by the mass movement and tried to pass the Lokpal Bill. Unfortunately, it got stalled in the Rajya Sabha on 29 December 2011, and was referred to a select committee to look into various amendments floated by the opposition parties. 
Since then, over the last one year, Anna’s movement lost its chosen direction, and drifted from the Lokpal Bill. The movement acquired a clear anti Congress stance. It was in bad taste to see the photographs of 15 cabinet ministers displayed on the stage at Jantar Mantar, with the PM on the top. It came to a stage where you were seen either with the Congress or with Anna.  I think, this was a basic flow in the action plan of the core team. It alienated a large number of the educated people who did not want to be seen as anti Congress, though they opposed corruption. Criticism of Dr Manmohan Singh, a model of honesty, also did not go down well with most of the people.
The agitation at the Ramlila Maidan last year was a huge success, mainly because of the media, who went an extra mile to give it a  24/7 coverage. Anna and his team took the media for granted. But the same did not happen at Jantar Mantar because the TV channels and journalists became discreet, witnessing a shift of focus in the movement, and it losing the steam due to falling response from the people. I saw it myself when I again spent a day with Anna on 29 August, to find the environment filled with venom and negativity against the Govt. Prashant Bhushan and others targeted the media without realizing that a movement succeeds based on its ideology and not media alone. Have you seen Medha Patkar, Sunderlal Bahuguna, or Shabana Azmi etc depending on the media alone for their cause? Anna got to take a lesson here.
Anna also lost the sympathy of the intellectuals when he lambasted the politicians, and demeaned the democratic institutions. He tried to dictate terms to the Parliament, and his team used unparliamentarily language against some political leaders. They did it in the name of people, the same people who had elected the members of the Parliament. Here is a dichotomy! Now Anna and his team are going to contest elections and try to enter the same Parliament in which he had no faith. He is going to rub shoulders with the same politicians whom he damned.
How will he do it? Does he have the power, money, and the organization to fight elections, and field candidates for 535 Lok Sabha seats?  A leader has to lead from the front. In case Anna Hazare does not contest elections, as he says, then how will he lead his team in the Parliament? Even, if he remains out of Parliament, will his party members get elected? If honesty was the criterion for winning an election, Dr Manmohan Singh would not have lost elections to Lok Sabha twice. Though sad, but it is a ground reality that most voters do not mind a corrupt, or even a ‘Goonda’ candidate, as long as he can deliver goods in their constituency, and meet their personal demands. Can Anna do it?  
By going political, the civil movement will lose its essence, and moral ascendancy. Once they form a political party, they will have to be in the thick of politics as no one can survive in isolation in this murky field. It will be against its very principles. From being conscience keepers of the country, Anna’s party will turn into another rookie face in the midst of hardened political parties.
So, how can Anna save his movement India Against Corruption (IAC) which is important for the country to fight the deep rooted menace. The civil movement should not die down when the nation had been sensitized and was ready to back it for the good cause.  I feel Anna should rethink on the political option, setting aside egos and personal ambitions of some of his team members. He should learn his lessons, remain apolitical, and take the movement from the Jantar Mantar and Ramlila Maidan to each home, village, and town, to spread the anti corruption voice. We have to attack the roots of this monster tree of corruption. And the roots lie in each of our home, and within us. If we cut the roots, by changing ourselves, the monster tree will dry up sooner or later.
Anna and his people should continue to pressurize the govt, and compel it to pass an effective and practical Lokpal Bill which is also implementable. Let’s not have a parallel bureaucracy or a draconian law. Baba Ramdev, NGOs, and social activists, should join Anna Hazare for the common cause. Let each one of us, irrespective of which party we belong to, or which office we work in, join Anna in thought and deed – to be simple, responsible, and honest human beings. Isn’t that what “I am Anna” Topi means?

Colonel R D Singh, a star blood donor, and a decorated soldier, belongs to Village Pilimandori (now in Distt. Fatehabad). He is also a life member of INTACH, and his entire family believes in giving back to the society.  Wife is a senior teacher in the Army Public School, daughter ( LLM topper from the DU Law Faculty) is a member of the Delhi Bar Association, and son, is a young Lieutenant in Army (third generation).  Col. Ripu Daman Singh writes regularly for news papers, and The Sirsa News.

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