Anna Hazare`s tongue-in-cheek jibe at the physical assault on Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in no way can be viewed as a minor slip of the tongue. It had spontaneity, and a discernable undertone of angst, not commensurate to a man of his repute. A Gandhian who was preaching peace at Ramlila Grounds for 17 long days, should not have allowed such a slip like “was it only one slap! (ek hi thappad mara)”. Slap or shoe, an assault is an assault, which is condemnable and unfortunate.
There’s no denying the fact that prices now brow-beat the majority and the reducing menu at aam admi`s plate has indeed driven the common man to a spot where the level of tolerance seems to be very low. But the slap registered on Pawar was part of a dangerous trend that no civilized society can ever endorse.
Anna, who during his entire sojourn at Ramlila Maidan had exercised remarkable show of restrain over any such acts, should not allow such slips that can stoke sentiments of many more Harvinders to take resort to such uncivil extremes.
And on other side of the fence, the scene is not encouraging either. It was seen, in the last few years, after each such incident the recipients (leaders) try to down play the incidents by forgiving the assaulters and go their way as usual. That is being great sport. But, for a while, the incidents do play a role in the mind of the common man who claps on each such show of `slaps` or throwing of a shoe or any such incident shown on news channels. He is, in fact, too crestfallen to comprehend ethics. He does not want to gauge the intricacies or ramifications of such outbursts in a democratic system. He is not even in a state of mind to regard the finer templates of ethics when he has to make his family swallow `roti` without `dal` or rice without `sabzi` (vegetables now cost so dear). Such acts on display rather play as cursory respites for common man.
Now the rulers must try to peep out of their sealed windows and see the realities. Be it Mamohan Singh or Pranab Mukherjee, simply mouthing homilies to arrest inflation by so and so per cent, by so and so month, is not going to placate the people`s psyche anymore or, for that matter, the litany of such uncivil outbursts, as it appears, can be more frequent as the level of desperation grows and tolerance remain on the low. People need respite.
We have to accept the reality that such people who indulge in these kind of acts are not seen entirely as villains. Be it the man who threw the shoe at George Bush or the one who hurled his shoe, symbolically though, at Chidambaram during a press conference or Harvinder Singh who hit Pawar, are often viewed as heroes in one way or the other. Let’s not dismiss them as mere publicity seekers who do such things on camera. Why would a tempo driver risk his bread and butter for such a momentary act which would hold him in limelight for minutes amidst fists and nudges from the security personnel. From the show of black flags or shouting slogans we have travelled to a phase when things have come to such a pass. Does it indicate at a state of accumulated eruption of anger, despair and helplessness? It`s a question the rulers of the day can hardly ignore now.
An empty bag cannot stand upright is what has been stinging the `aam admi`, who cannot fill a medium size polythene bag even after spending one hundred rupees at a shop. The `netas` never feel that pinch. Yet they never stop from preaching transparency in public life.
Yes, Anna had surely struck the chord and he must reappear not just for Jan Lokpal Bill but on the specifics like price rise which the governments, given a political will, can surely arrest. Who controls the prices and who helps in their rise, no Harvinder or Sukhvinder knows.
That is the reason these set of people are sent to Parliament not merely to wallow wax in the game of deception. Calculations stun the common man when he knows the amount of country`s exchequer is blown on the security of these people, on the maintenance of their official bungalows and luxury dishes they devour at people`s cost at Parliament or State Assembly`s subsidized canteens.
Anna`s next `anshan` needs to focus on the price-whipped citizens who helplessly gaze at the government. Yes it is one single thing to which all apathies are hinged - corruption. And the concern to camouflage the malady behind rhetoric triggers the outbursts.