The Lokpal debate: All must mind their language

There seems to be no let up in the stand-off between the UPA government and Team Anna over the Lokpal issue.

By DN Singh | Last Updated: Dec 26, 2011, 12:23 PM IST

DN Singh

There seems to be no let up in the stand-off between the UPA government and Team Anna over the Lokpal issue. After a series of offensives fired from different quarters of the Congress, now some have stooped down to a very personal level to belittle the image of Anna and his associates using terminologies which smack of frustration.

During a panel discussion the other day on a national English channel, Mani Shankar Aiyar nearly went overboard to ridicule the importance of Anna Hazare as meaningless and charged him for adopting arm-twisting tactics or blackmailing to pressurise the UPA government to submission. He not only dubbed the Team Anna as a bunch of good for nothing "jokers" but he also appealed to his UPA colleagues to just ignore all his logics as rubbish and allow Team Anna to go to whatever wilderness it deserves.

The temper in Aiyar was so much in an upward trajectory and so rawly manifested that the channel anchor was found struggling to restore the level of civility in the debate. It was not known whether Aiyar had the mandate of Congress party or Sonia Gandhi to indulge in such extremes or he was simply trying to be unique by such an offensive stance. Either using sobriquets like "joker" or "Frankenstein`s Monsters" for the team, which is now on the centre-stage of a national debate, Aiyar has done, perhaps, more flip-flops than Digvijay Singh. As it appears, being in political wilderness for quite some time he has developed a detest for the lot of the insular politicians and Anna has become a target.

It goes without saying that not only Mani Shankar Aiyar was one of the finest ministers, he is erudite, articulate and witty. Aiyar, through his columns in magazines and newspapers, always corresponds to the mental image of the present India and stands apart from the run-of-the-mill politicians and ministers. A man who has always shown vision and dealt with issues with class intellect but, in that panel discussion he appeared wanting for the cool, a man of his stature is required to command.

All said and done, Anna has aroused a larger section of the country on the issue of corruption, with the whole nation rallying around him, the middle-class in particular. An issue which touched the pulse of each Indian notwithstanding what the politicians think. Anna’s movement, minus its flawed approaches here and there, had put UPA’s credibility at stake.

Some have denounced Anna’s crusade as a right-wing engineered move which remained dipped in a kind of fascist colour pushing for a regressive legislation in the name of Jan Lokpal Bill. Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari tried to belittle Anna describing him as a man who is corrupt from head to the toe. Even a senior leader like Digvijay Singh still continues to hit out at Anna and his team with whatever he can lay his hands on.

While some have described him as ‘undemocratic’ having least regard for the Parliament, a man from the real Gandhi clan, Tushar Gandhi was heard in a television debate describing Anna’s method of reform as “obnoxious”. That is where Anna is required to go for introspection. His elevation to the stature of a hero so abruptly should also match with the much needed patriarch dispositions of a Gandhian.

But what apparently appears to be the need of the hour, either for Team Anna or the UPA in general and the Congress party in particular, is that there must be a middle path for both the sides by not using language which exceeds the parameters of civility.

The same kind of extremes seem to haunting Team Anna. To campaign against corruption or demand a Lokpal Bill does not mean one goes on to dub one and all in power as thieves or thugs. It has been seen more often than not, Anna or his team members mouthing words for leaders by individual names.

What has further added to Anna’s debit is his uni-dimensional approach to the issues and his penchant for deadlines. His apparent allergy for the political community and his passion to outrightly uproot a malady like corruption overnight has, perhaps, alienated him from being patient, strategic and holistic in his approach. Be it the Congress or any other political party in power, it is not possible to expect from any regime to break its cocoon so easily.