This is beginning to look like the ultimate tear jerker on TV. A script written to bring in the viewers! Old man Anna goes on a fast against corruption. His two closest aides are the father-son duo of Shanti and Prashant Bhushan. Anna wins the battle as the government comes under pressure from a clearly undemocratic blackmail-like agitation. The frenzied mobs hail this as a victory against corrupt politicians. Both Bhushans then get onto the panel which will draft the actual anti corruption Bill.....and suddenly comes the twist in the tale! The two Bhushans are themselves caught......there are accusations of them being corrupt; their integrity is questionable.....the story just got more interesting!
One of the things that irked me the most during the 4 days when democracy was hijacked by Anna and his armchair critics was the smug feeling of self righteousness amongst his followers. Those who crowded Jantar Mantar; those who made their first appearances on TV (especially as members of panels); those who “liked” the movement on Facebook were all right. Those who had a divergent point of view.....even just questioned the methods while supporting the cause otherwise.....were supporters of corruption and in fact, evil. It appeared as though all politicians were corrupt; all citizens were moral uprightness personified. The accusation against the Bhushans should prove a point I have been making all along – all Indians.....OK, let me correct myself....most Indians are guilty of corruption themselves. And I don’t mean of just giving bribes. I mean actually stealing money from the government by not paying taxes as required under the law. Taxes that could have been utilized for the uplift of the poor. It now appears that the Bhushans are guilty of much more.....that of indulging in open corruption. That of trying to bribe the judiciary.
Many of Anna’s supporters are shattered. As I am sure he is himself. He’s made a brave statement that if this is true, then both Bhushans would be dropped. Many who supported the movement feel that this is all a government ploy to discredit the movement. But I fail to understand how this matters. Is the truth more important or the motivation behind the release of the CD? In fact, isn’t this also a whistleblower operation that someone has conducted against a corrupt person? Let’s say the government did engender the release of the tapes at this time. How does that take away from the truth? The forensic labs have said the tape was not spliced. Prashant Bhushan has himself admitted that the voice could be his fathers. His only defense was that the tape was spliced. That’s proven not to be the case. If we ask ministers to be sacked on the basis of prima facie involvement, should the same rule not apply to the Bhushans? Will they now show decency by resigning before they are thrown out by Anna?
Then look at the charges made against Shanti Bhushan in his recent land purchase in
. A 7800 sq. meter plot of land in the posh area of Civil Lines in Allahabad was bought by him for just Rs 5 lacs when its actual market value is said to be Rs 18-19 crores. Why did Shanti Bhushan underdeclare the value of the land? Obviously to save on the stamp duty. He paid only Rs 45000 as stamp duty when he should have paid more than Rs 1.5 crores. Now isn’t this a copy book case of what politicians are accused of? Did he learn these tricks when he was a politician himself so many years back?! Should this man have been allowed at all by Anna in his coterie of confidantes? Allahabad
Of course, the world at large may not know that Prashant Bhushan is the lawyer who has petitioned the President of India for clemency for Afzal Guru....the one who was proven guilty of attacking Parliament and was given the death sentence by the Supreme Court. Prashant Bhushan’s argument was that Afzal Guru “was not the main culprit....he didn’t personally attack the Parliament but was only involved in the conspiracy”. Just like Osama Bin Laden, Dawood Ibrahim and their types don’t deserve the death penalty because they didn’t carry out any attacks personally! Frankly, I don’t mind his taking this position in this case.....as a lawyer you often take cases which are interesting and there is nothing wrong with that. My problem is that how can such people suddenly claim to be so morally superior to the rest of their countrymen that they start preaching to them? After all, how can a public personality separate out his “professional conduct” from his personal beliefs?
The purpose of this piece is not to belittle the anti-corruption movement.
needed one and it’s finally had one. All thanks to Anna. But the purpose of this piece is to drive a little sense into the million of followers who believe that hunger strikes are the way to rule the country. It is to stop Anna Hazare’s ambitions to start one more hunger strike.....this time for the right to recall MPs. It is to remove the self righteousness that pervaded the entire movement. It is to bring back a semblance of maturity to the issue and force a more balanced debate. It is to make sure that democracy is not replaced by mobocracy. I strongly decry the fast-undo-death route as being blackmail against a legally elected government. But I decry even more the idiotic role of the followers. India
The real truth is that the Bhushans should resign. And be sued. In fact, Anna Hazare should sue them personally. It’s a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. If we drill deeper, we will realize that before we can point fingers at politicians, we need to point them at ourselves first. We cannot take the “holier than thou” attitude we have taken so far. We need to do many things that I have listed in my earlier posts to root out corruption; not just go out in frenzied morchas to enact a bill that will most certainly harm the very democracy that has given us the freedom to carry out such morchas in the first place.....