It’s shocking how Anna Hazare is allowing the Bhushans to hijack his anti-corruption agenda. They are making a joke out of themselves and in the process derailing a movement which found so much support among the urban middle-class. But, the question in today’s post is not about the Bhushans.....it’s about Anna Hazare. Why is he allowing the Bhushans to deflect the nation’s attention away from the main issue? Why is he making tactical mistakes at this crucial hour?
A comparison between Gandhi and Hazare was made a few days ago when Hazare emerged “victorious” from the battle with the government. Even then, I never thought the comparison was valid. Gandhi was battling a valid cause against an imperious British Raj which was an imperialist force occupying
. Hazare was battling a legally elected government with proven credentials (the people gave it a 2nd term in 2009). His hunger strike was always blackmail to me. But forget all of this. Just look at how different Gandhi and Hazare have been in the kind of company that they kept. Gandhi had Nehru, Sardar Patel, Shastri, Rajgopalachari and others as his nearest allies to help dialogue with the British. These were savvy people; people who understood the language of the colonialists and who could communicate in it to achieve their own objectives. They knew the ways of the British Parliamentary system. Eventually, when freedom was given to India .....it was as much for Gandhi’s pressure tactics as it was for Nehru and Patel’s ability to hammer out an independence Act in the British Parliament. Gandhi without Nehru and Patel would have failed and we would still have been slaves. Now look at Hazare’s company. It includes the likes of the Bhushans who are unashamedly asking that a different standard be applied to them than applied to public servants. Hazare with the Bhushans on his side will fail. Hazare with better people will succeed. India
The issue again is not of whether the CD is right or wrong. It may well be doctored (or it may be genuine). No one knows that at the moment. But in spite of this controversy, Anna Hazare is hesitant in sacking the two. He would be happy to ask government ministers to be sacked on mere accusations, but he isn’t asking for the same from his aids. If he were to just ask the two to step aside, he would bring the focus back on the main issue. Yes, it’s possible that other members of the civil activists group may also be targeted if the Bhushans were sacked. But that’s real life. Each person has hidden skeletons lying in his backyard. If the goal is to remove the skeletons from the backyard, then it’s only fair that people who have skeletons in their backyard should not be on the panel. It should be remembered that the Bill itself may undergo several changes as the dialogue progresses. What if the final Bill looks different from the original Jan Lokpal Bill that Hazare proposed? Won’t the panel then be targeted and allegations made that they sold out to the government? It helps not only Hazare but also the government that no such suspicions are raised after the final Bill is drawn out. It’s in the interest of both of them to ensure that the Bhushans are immediately asked to step aside.
It’s not only the question of the CD. There is also the land-stamp-duty case in
. No one feels good that a piece of land in the heart of Allahabad is bought for Rs 5 lacs.....when its actual worth is some Rs 18-19 crores. Of course, the Bhushans will have an explanation for this. Just like ministers have when they are accused. But why should they demand special treatment when the same is not extended to others? Then there is the fresh new allegation that Shanti Bhushan is one of those who sat on the bill for the last so many decades. When he was the Union Minister of Law in 1977, he did precisely nothing on it. How come he’s now pointing a finger at the others? Has he suddenly had a change of heart? Allahabad
However, the points that Harish Salve made on Times Now last night were the most pertinent of them all. He complained that those who indulge in accusing others and denigrating their reputation without any proof in hand cannot complain when the same is done to them. During the show, Arvind Kejriwal accused P Chidambaram, Pranab Mukherjee and Kapil Sibal of not being clean. Does he have any proof? When he was chided by Harish Salve, he tried to say that he hadn’t said it. Why didn’t Arnab play that portion of the recording back to him? He should have. And why is Arvind Kejriwal going around saying that he will be targeted next. Does he have something to hide? If he doesn’t, then why is he worried? Is he trying to pre-empt something? Is he building his defenses in anticipation of what dirt may come out on him?
And I cannot understand what is wrong in Kapil Sibal briefing journalists on his points of view. In the frenzy that followed the hunger strike, no one gave the government a chance to be heard. It was the same during the 2G matter.....no one gave Kapil Sibal much of a chance when he said that 2G policy was never one of maximizing revenues. That the government saw it differently....that it believed that mobile telephony was as fundamental a need of the 21st century as cheap kerosene is (hence low pricing was more important than higher spectrum charges). What’s wrong if he puts his point of view out now using media? If Arvind Kejriwal and the Bhushans can use media, it’s fine; if Kapil Sibal uses media, it’s unethical!
Anna Hazare should not get into such a low level game. This is the muck in politics that he should keep out of. And he should keep good company around him. Those who believe in democracy; who understand the Constitution; who understand how Parliament functions; what the Laws are.....not lofty idealists who are far removed from the realities on ground. It’s ok for Hazare to be an idealist....a dreamer.....but his cronies have to be far more grounded. Like Nehru and Patel were.
The real truth is that Anna Hazare is no Gandhi. He is when it comes to personal morals and ethics. But he isn’t when it comes to building a team. Gandhi knew when to step in and step out. Anna does not. Gandhi had the guts to go on hunger-fast against his own people for the ills of society that they perpetrated (untouchability; caste system). Anna so far has not spoken to his followers about their own corruption. But most importantly, Gandhi kept the likes of Nehru and Patel to talk to the British.....people who were above board; people who the citizens of
trusted. Hazare is keeping the Bhushans for company; This is the big reason why Hazare is no Gandhi.... India