Editorial. Satya Pal Singh. November XXVI. XIII
Kejriwal and Broomstick!
By Satya Pal Singhh
India Against Corruption (IAC) took roots at a time when the UPA rulers at the Centre went wayward to arrogate the authority over people's rights and turned highly irresponsible by putting premium on every nonsense of the system that violated the constitutional provisions and recklessly played with the voters' trust. Anna Hazare, a simple Gandhian with abiding ameliorative spirit, took the field, carving a course of action that pulled multitudes together, most notably the youth. Crowds kept swelling nationally as the Gandhian held his indefinite fast to press for rectifying the tottering system and enacting a comprehensive law, meaning a "strong, effective Jan Lokpal" as an ultimate remedy to banish the evil of corruption from society. Anna, as an icon of the movement, which drew a galaxy of right-thinking people, gave to the govt a comprehensive list of provisions to form part of the proposed law to straighten governance and fight the scourge of growing corruption.
Under severe public pressure, a terribly traumatized Manmohan Singh Govt promised to quickly enact the IAC-suggested law with an elaborate mix of significant do's and don'ts. The crowds, almost tired by now, dispersed in the hope that the govt would gracefully address its concerns. But what did the govt do? It brought out an insidiously designed bill, all diluted in its clauses, typically a measure that, by no stretch of imagination, could bring pressure on habitual fraudsters and players of corrupt practices. Things came to square one and, in an amazing turn of events, new scams broke out with direct links to the Prime Minister's office. The movement, inspirationally called India Against corruption, comprehensively fizzled. Hopes of Anna and party, as also of all well-meaning millions of crusaders who braved the prolonged weather discomfort under the open sky for weeks together, came to the frustration of a life time.
What exactly went wrong? Why did the leaders of the crusade so timidly give in? Why did Anna Hazare break from the comrades? Why the hell strong enthusiasts like Baba Ramdev, Kiran Bedi and many others fell out? How come Anna concluded that nothing could be done? Was there a complete breakdown of communication among the crusaders, or did the egos clash. Did Kejriwal's firm talk of formation of a political party weigh so heavily on Anna and his team? What exactly were the cantors of Anna's crusade? Did he want to play Gandhi and have a Nehru to carry out his bidding? If it was really so, one might genuinely surmise that Anna was patently wrong there.
For, he wanted a repeat of something that transpired 66 years ago, as the country won its freedom. People then were in high spirits and, Nehru and his associates, were keen on fully fructifying the yield of the momentum. Drawing inspiration from Gandhi, who unfortunately could not live long, the leadership initiated substantive national development programmes. But here 66 years on, Anna lost sight of the fact that he was no Gandhi and his time was qualitatively different. The political leaders he had to face now were not of nascent origin ; they were the ones who had got thoroughly toughened under the obtaining events and vicissitudes of time. Not only Anna, even the high-flying yesteryear cop Kiran bedi, failed to realize that in the present times, any symbolic presence of father-figures, doesn't emit the candour of residual honour and spontaneous commandment.
Therefore, the very approach of Anna to get everything done by way of simple, elderly overtures made to operators of the system, was awfully misconstrued and disappointingly misplaced. Kejriwal, at least, had the temerity to form a political party and straight go into the ring. Surprisingly, this newest political formation is covering the ground in a smart sweep towering on the zeal of commoners, especially the youth. One wonders, the way AAP as a new party, has remarkably gained its respectable space in Delhi, it would have done much better, had Anna Hazare happily blessed it's going early. We may recall, not even Kashiram's initial tryst with destiny through his BSP was so inspiring. What transpired later has been a big story for that party. Similarly, if AAP manages to get seats in the vicinity of 22 or 25, as different opinion polls suggest, the party, facing a tough challenge from the national monolithic entities, would well be a commendable break-though. This would clearly suggest that people are fed up with corruption and tricky governance and want to cleanse the system.
Coming to sting operations on AAP, one might argue that the national parties, not wanting to allow space to a new formation, may go any far to destroy it. Now that Kejriwal has claimed that the sting is not only sponsored by the rival parties, but is also cleverly doctored, having produced disjointed threads with the intention to damage his party. This is political arena, where anything vicious can never be ruled out. One hopes with the coming of a serious contender in the political field, the Congress and the BJP would have to go clean or, at least cleaner, if any of them heads the new govt in Delhi. It's certain that none of the two main contenders can form a govt without the support of AAP. Anna has questioned why has Kejriwal spent the "IAC money" on his party's poll campaign and, why the same has not been returned to the people. Kejriwal may be at fault here, because the money collected from people through donations should have been more meaningfully utilized through consensus. Let Anna not feel that AAP has been formed to promote Kejriwal's personal interests, for no one individual can hijack a party in our system. Kejriwal may appear to be authoritarian, but he would hopefully do well in a coalition govt, by way of exercising an effective participatory control over the larger ruling combination.
I have come across a link here which seeks to compare the fiasco of French Revolution, following the downfall of King Louis XVI, to the failure of Anna's movement against corruption. The movement might have crashed, but the shreds that IAC left behind are very much operational and eminently invigorating. If AAP happens to register its presence significantly in the state of Delhi in the ensuing election, the movement is not dead. I will advise Anna Hazare to gracefully capture its thread and carry the movement forward from here. His coming back would be a major inspiration and contribution to giving the struggle a big push at the right time..Let egos take a back seat ; it's never too late to establish a system of propriety, righteousness and lawful governance. The loot of public wealth and utilities witnessed in the recent past must stop forthwith. If France and many other countries of the world had extensive bloodshed during their revolutionary struggles, waged valiantly to end exploitation of the masses, we too had lost a lot during our own freedom struggle. Now, however, we have an opportunity to bring about the needed changes towards a cleaner governance peacefully under our strong and mature democratic dispensation.
Nonetheless, we must remember, as Frank Serpico learned through his exemplary toil, that "the fight for justice against corruption is never easy. It never has been and never will be. It exacts a toll on our self, our families, our friends, and especially our children. In the end, I believe, as in my case, the price we pay is well worth holding on to our dignity."...So, if no great struggle goes without a price, let's pay some.
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