In response to my earlier article on Anna Hazare, `Is Anna heading for footnotes’, I got heaps of abuses from esteemed readers for being `biased` and purportedly in favour of one political party. This was not the intention by any stretch of imagination.
The article was just an endeavor to read into the intricacies of a continuing process, thus trying to present an update on the leanings of Anna movement from its high pedestal to the campaign ground. It was never an attempt to underplay the significance of the movement but to say that Anna - someone who has earned the image of an impeccable crusader, which he is - is on a slippery slope of politics is not commensurate to his stature.
Now coming back to the present, there is an amount of confusion yet again brewing out of the mix-up of events and opinions.
Anna has gone on a `maun vrat ` (a vow of silence). Anna has also said that if the Congress passes a strong Jan Lokpal Bill, then he would work in tandem with the party. On the other hand general secretary and senior leader of the Congress, Digvijay Singh has made an offer to the veteran social activist that if the Gandhian decides to undertake an `anshan` in Uttar Pradesh, then he will join him in his fight against the corrupt Mayawati government.
This is a clear-cut politics which still refuses to acknowledge the man`s virtues, which is now being put on a barter that a clean hearted man like Anna may fail to read into the tricks of Congress.
Moreover, the views of an important Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan on the issue of plebiscite in Kashmir has also put Anna in a very unenviable situation. The man with an independent mind and impeccable integrity, now stands divided between ‘yes’ or ‘no’ over Bhushan.
On one side some people are making attempts to stifle the voices from within the Anna camp, either through assaults on Prashant Bhushan and now Arvind Kejriwal, on the other hand the Union Home Ministry does little to pin down such elements who perpetrate these acts of violence. This means that one can do anything and get away after a day or two in jail.
The whole issue now seems to be caught in a political cross-fire where the rogue elements will do everything possible to subvert Anna’s crusade. On one hand, the loose cannons in the Congress leave no scope to take potshots at the Anna movement whenever they can and on the other, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh keeps reiterating his assurances for a robust Jan Lokpal Bill but without any time frame.
One day Anna Hazare is dubbed as an RSS agent and the next day, some Congress leader is mouthing some good virtues about the Gandhian. Nonetheless, no praise whatsoever seems to be there for Anna’s team. This shows that there is a clear design to single out Anna from his core group and at the same time, play tricks to placate him. There is also an attempt to engineer more splits within Team Anna.
The truth is that not only the media is shrieking with excitement by the quick change of events but the Congress leaders, who perhaps think that Anna is a malleable person, are further trying to vitiate the air in the Anna camp and oxygenate their own beleaguered reputation before the ensuing polls.
Nobody can say with certitude that the outcome of the Hisar by-election can be used as a lever to cajole the Congress to submission and pass a strong Jan Lokpal Bill during the Winter Session of Parliament. If corruption was the major talking point by Anna, then an allegedly corrupt politician should not have emerged the second highest vote-getter in the Hisar bypoll. This shows that the people of Hisar have not specifically voted against corruption. The only consolation for Anna camp is that the Congress candidate lost his deposit.
Either out of personal choice or by some other compulsions, Anna`s reported invitation to Rahul Gandhi to visit Ralegan Siddhi has infused a new thrill into the series of developments. He is suddenly searching for the virtues through Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the political party in which he has discovered the biggest monster of corruption.
Notwithstanding the veracity of reports, a message has gone to the Anna supporters that there is something topsy-turvy. The expected honeymoon is seen to be a probable turning point in the relations between the great crusader and the Congress at a time when Anna camp is celebrating the Hisar bypoll outcome.
It is true that Anna has been able to correspond to the mental image of the modern youth mass of the country, but now he must represent a departure from the vices of the politicians who hitherto pretend to epitomize clean public life.
On many earlier occasions, Anna has rejected such pleasantries from the UPA as subterfuge and this time around some people are working overtime to design such distortions through the press to jeopardize the movement. Now, it is apparent that it is only Anna who matters in the drive against corruption.