Anna back on the driver's seat



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So, Anna has struck the chord again, kicking off a debate as to whether his way of 'satyagraha' can really bring about a change while not breaching the parliamentary ethics. He is not alone this time albeit, it had appeared so in the initial phase of his campaign. It is a different matter whether his ways can help him fight-out the dangerous malaise plaguing the nation. But, the issue has brought to the fore many colours in the shape of media savvy 'netas' and intellectuals who, on one hand, espouse for the poor from behind the masks and, on the other, their pretensions in holding the briefs for the political people are so implicitly clear. Let corruption be there for half-a-century more but let, only, the bunch of corrupt and incurable politicians stem the rot constitutionally which has not been possible in the last 64 years. They have made the rules that give them the escape routes.

And it is no secret that none of the political parties can ever be in favour of a strong Lokpal Bill.

The intelligentsia that frequently appears on the television channels has its own agenda. While the politicians try to play it safe to hide their double standards, their desperations for political opportunism are very discernible.

A sizable number of intellectuals who peddle a mind-set about probity in the political field, try to dub Anna's style of reform as deceptive, collusive, amateurish and extremely detrimental for a democracy. That may be correct as far as the haste with which Anna has been trying to pressurise the government for a clinical solution is concerned. But, Anna has never claimed a place in the policy making mechanism so far. He has only pressed for the inclusion of some points for debate in the Parliament, which he still does.

So does the multitude out on the streets of Delhi and elsewhere for whom Anna epitomises the mass sentiment against corruption.

Anna's versions on corruption have been hard to place as a mere satire. But when a satire is accurate, it really shocks many. And it did.

Some have seen it as an assault on the Constitution and on the nuances of democracy. But a great majority of this country has seen it as a rightful attack on a kind of totalitarianism that has given root to a malaise now hard to be dislodged from the State socialism.

But the people at large, in India, who pay a price for the air they breath, for the water they drink and see the dreams for a better education for their children shattered under the load of bribe they have to pay as donations, construe Anna's call as an attack on the pretensions of the politicians and the socalled liberalism of the metro-based intellectuals on the TV screens.

“It is a not a mass movement as it has only aroused the sentiments of the upper middle class,” was one observation made by a few intellectuals including journalists.

How many of those intellectuals read the pulse of the nation in the extreme rural pockets? There is an equal fire among the lower-middle class and the down-trodden. The irony is that they lack a medium, lack a man to carry their emotions.

Anna Hazare is now saying something what they always think but have never managed to formulate into words.

Regardless of the support Anna has garnered in the last three to four days, he has been committing the mistake time and again by spelling deadlines for the legislation of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Then the bigger question is, what would happen after the deadline of 15 days or so.

Such outbursts always give an opportunity to his detractors to dub it as a feverish tubercular imagination and accuse his close supporters for 'lampooning' of a popular cause in a kind of sado-masochistic manner.

Obviously, we can not expect any law framed beyond the ambit of the Constitution. So, Jan Lokpal Bill cannot be an exception.

That Anna and his associates know. But what Anna has done is that he has reminded the nation about a thing that the politicians usually avoid.

If Anna supporters have lampooned themselves over a cause so dear to one and all, then what cannot be ignored are the ways in which leaders and people on television debates try to lampoon themselves by casting aspersions on the 74-year-old social reformer who enjoys an impeccable record as a social activist. While some say he is “corrupt from head to the toe”, others were heard calling him a “7th pass truck driver”.

Sadly, such outbursts are not only febrile in taste but are meaninglessly incomprehensible. Is he not more sacrosanct than the people with criminal track records sitting in Parliament or in various state Assemblies?

An over-dose of intellectualization of the movement through television debates tries to over-shadow the simple thing, that Anna's fight may not be concerned with all the contemporary events, but it is an issue about the continuing present and surely an update on the level of corruption that blights one and all. The ones who hasten to deplore Anna as 'corrupt' or a 'driver' are shamelessly unmoved by the embarrassing descriptions of peoples' encounter with poverty, starvation, farmers' suicide or child selling in the interiors of the country.

Anna' movement cannot be dismissed as a mere satirical attack. What cannot be lost sight of is that, it is a kind of warning, though not a prophecy, which has aroused lakhs of people in the country who want to assert themselves. Perhaps they were desperate for such an avenue. It is wrong to say that it were only the "white skinned" boys and girls hyped by the electronics media.

Such observations emanate from the people who suffer from a kind of myopia and it exposes their class difficulties more than about the real social discrimination in a country threatened by corruption.