Slow death of Anna ‘phenomenon ’
As I write this piece analyzing the factors behind the tragic failure of a pan-India revolution against corruption started by Anna Hazare, I fear backlash from several of his supporters, who would not hesitate to brand me as a Congress agent or a paid journo with no ethos.
This has happened to me in the past as well whenever I tried to pen my thoughts on the Gandhian’s campaign, which at one point of time awakened the inner conscience of the entire nation and shook the political establishment.
Honestly speaking, the failure or slow death of Anna Hazare’s campaign is disheartening. It is indeed painful to note that the people’s support to the anti-corruption movement spearheaded by Anna and his close associates is fast waning.
People’s lack of concern to systemic rot of corruption in our society and their growing apathy towards ‘India Against Corruption’ movement will only embolden those who have plundered the nation’s wealth, obstructed the nation’s economic growth and deprived many ordinary Indians of an accountable governance.
But who is to be blamed for this poor state of affairs related to the Lokpal movement? Why is Anna Hazare’s movement dying? Are Anna’s key comrades better equipped to lead the battle against corruption than him given his rural and non-English background? What has changed in the past one year after Anna’s anti-corruption agitation forced the Congress-led UPA government to agree to bring a competent law to check corruption in public life?
Why is people’s support for Anna drying up and why is there a growing disenchantment towards his Lokpal movement? Is it time for Team Anna to change the goal post and prepare a clear-cut strategy to deal with the government? And above all, will a strong Lokpal ever become a reality?
Answer to all these pertinent questions can be found if we ask ourselves whether we want to see India transforming itself into a corruption free nation. A nation with equal opportunities for all, a nation where there is no exploitation of any kind, and a nation which guarantees a peaceful life to its entire citizenry.
Of course, Team Anna has committed several mistakes in the past, but we the people of this great nation are equally responsible for the failure of his Lokpal movement. As it is said, Indians always look for a leader to lead them. They never practice what they preach. We want our children to grow up with high lofty ideals that would make them a responsible citizen but when it comes to taking the opportunity of laying foundation for a value-driven society, we shirk from our responsibility.
Many of us, who have pledged support to Anna’s Lokpal movement, spoke highly of him and even signed online campaigns for a strong anti-graft mechanism, have actually failed to turn up in person when our support really mattered.
Ask yourself, have you ever visited Anna Hazare’s fast venue? Have you actually contributed or done the least to strengthen the Lokpal movement. The answer is a big No. It is not surprising at all. I am also one of those who want this system to change, but do nothing to effect that change.
Had it been otherwise, Team Anna would not have faced embarrassment like what it faced in Mumbai last year. But look at this frail old man’s conviction to uproot the cancer of corruption from our society. He has come again, and this time at Jantar Mantar, to appeal India to unite for a just cause, overlooking health concerns.
After a meteoric rise, Team Anna’s popularity graph has come down sharply. The political camouflaging of the Lokpal movement and Team Anna members’ sharp criticism of Congress party and its government, both at the Centre and in the various states, have also contributed to the movement’s failure.
The motor-mouth indiscretions and sheer political immaturity of Team Anna members have also complicated the situation, forcing Anna Hazare on the back-foot. The Gandhian, probably, doesn’t understand that to fight an establishment you have to be a part of the establishment. One can’t simply challenge or raise question marks over the functioning of a democratically chosen government.
Ironically, by doing so, and by labeling people’s elected representatives as ‘rapists, corrupt and dacoits,’ Team Anna has hurt its own credibility. Team Anna needs to realize that the previous success of the Lokpal movement was largely because it managed to stem support of the middle class, which suffers the most from corruption.
The middle-class extended its support to Anna’s movement since it wanted the government to take responsibility for big-ticket corruption in high places and complete lack of accountability. What worked in favour of Team Anna was the growing number of scams and corruption cases that were unearthed against several members of the ruling disposition. From CWG to 2G, Adarsh Housing Society, NRHM, illegal mining scams and many more, it appeared that there was no one to challenge big-ticket corruption.
This is when Anna Hazare emerged on the scene and his team comprising Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Manish Sisodia, noted lawyers Shanti and Prashant Bhushan and many more joined hands to fight corruption.
The movement started with a noble idea to make India a corruption-free nation with a Gandhian figure serving as its mascot. However, buoyed by initial success, Team Anna soon shifted its focus from corruption and began targeting the ruling disposition, which it claimed was the root cause of the problem. Team Anna changed the strategy, but it backfired and several of its members themselves came under severe scrutiny. The allegations of backroom political support to Lokpal movement and Anna being a hidden face of the right-wing Hindu organization RSS made headlines. Reactions and counter reactions…..the story goes on.
It seems the movement is losing steam and the people of India, especially the youth, do not see any merit in giving it more than a passing attention. It is evident from the fact that this time around, those celebrities who voiced their concerns over growing corruption and shared the dais with Anna Hazare are missing.
Clearly, the urbane India seems to have lost enthusiasm for the Lokpal movement, the youth of India is confused.
Unless Team Anna reinvents itself to ensure that the Lokpal movement gets the attention which it needs, a journalist like me would be ready with an obituary on how a popular mass movement died and how India lost a chance to uproot corruption.