In the national frenzy of Anna’s campaign while some very pertinent issues have come forth, other equally important points have been lost in the din.
First, and possibly the point that has found most echo, is related with the government response. There is no doubt that this is a government that does not learn its lessons. After the pachyderm sized bungle up of Baba Ramdev episode, it found itself on the wrong foot all over again.
The clever bees of the government thought that a heavy hand works best when dealing with an insolent adversary. Only to find itself boxed in a corner.
In a democratic set-up, you cannot deny the right to peaceful protest. Our honourable Home Minister, with a degree in law, educated the packed Parliament about Article 107 and 151, and how what the government took was only a “preventive measure”! What he got was a rap from the Supreme Court which said that preventive detention could only be done in case of “imminent danger
Surely, there was no indication of the protest turning violent, considering that Anna claims to be a Gandhian and had vouched that peace and order would be maintained.
If the government thought that it they could stare Anna down, the way they dealt with Ramdev - first with force and then with gelid indifference - they were wrong. Anna is no Baba. And, certainly not Ramdev.
Not in the people’s eyes at least.
So when the panjandrum spokesperson, Mr Manish Tiwari, another “articulate” lawyer of calibre, went on the offensive trying to defame Anna Hazare and calling him corrupt from head to toe, we knew another swollen head also had a big mouth.
That the UPA II is moving from blunder to blunder is evident enough. Having to eat crow, after temporary exercise in brinkmanship, goes only to show the poor calibre of the government’s think tanks and shatters our confidence in its credibility.
While most of the people are likely to agree with my views on the issue so far, given the mood of the nation; I feel there are some points that we are missing out.
Anna’s right to protest is granted, but for him to believe that his way is the only way, is not.
The intransigent stand that Anna and his team have adopted is undeniably wrong. The moot question is who decides which version of the Lokpal is right. If the government version needs improvising, so does the Jan Lokpal. There are provisions in it that may lead to a constitutional crisis. For example, the inclusion of the Chief Justice of India.
If the bill is admitted through a procedure in Parliament and then referred to a Standing Committee, should Team Anna not accept that method? There is more than one MP who is willing to bring to the table the Jan Lokpal as a private member’s bill.
If taking to the street is the birth right of a citizen, is not holding a democratically elected government hostage over a bill, anarchy?
And who can take the guarantee for a Lokpal, when the Prime Minister in office and CJI are suspect!
If the government has been dictatorial, has Anna also not been undemocratic in a way? Because there has been a huge sympathy wave in favour of the activist, do we close our eyes to rationale reasoning and fail to acknowledge the fact that there is no such thing as human infallibility.
The third point relates to the Opposition. They can piggy-back on the civil society movement, but there is much food for thought for them. Had they nailed the government on corruption effectively enough or come up with a pro-active plan, would the civil society have needed to fill the vacuum? Is their house clean, in reality? Had they been in place of the UPA, what would have been their response? Possibly, less autocratic. But would they have toed Anna’s line!
At this point, I am not sure that any political party would want probity of MP actions within Parliament or accept the Jan Lokpal in its current form.
The last but the most significant point relates with us – the people. Are we willing to let the country slide into a state of flux? Are we ready to see authoritarian methods being adopted to set the agenda! Are we willing to let democratic institutions in this country get undermined? And once again, what I said in a post before, are we prepared to change our own ways? Are we willing to give up corruption?
Isn’t it just so convenient to keep fighting against the corrupt in power; while overlooking the issue of our own immorality?
Aren’t these questions terribly inconvenient and unanswered?
(The views expressed by the author are personal)