Make no mistake. This so called people’s movement has turned into a cancer. Just like the dangerous disease has no solution, this movement has has also become extremely dangerous with no possibility of a solution. Just like the dreaded disease fights off every new medicine, this movement also fights off every new solution proposed. Just like the scary disease first grows in the human body and eventually eats it up, this movement also has taken roots inside our thriving democracy and is now eating it up. Just like the life-threatening disease dies only after taking the person’s life, this movement may also die only after taking the life of the body-politic of this country. Make no mistake; this protest is no longer an ordinary movement. This movement has turned cancerous in the last few days.
If this movement is not treated and killed immediately, it will devour and kill the the country very soon. This is not a time for games. This is not a time for politics. This is not a time for grandstanding. This is a time for crushing this movement with unprecedented force and vigor. I appeal to the political parties not to succumb to this pressure; equally, not to play around with this disease and instead take a tough stance. I also appeal to the media to stop inflating the reality of the crowds and bring it to an immediate close. I also appeal to all people of the country to stand up and say in one voice – I do not support Anna’s methods and I want Anna to stop threatening Parliament.
Whether it is Anna himself who has turned into a terror or his team members does not matter. Anna has himself behaved unstatesmanlike; calling all politicians “gaddars” (traitors). He’s pilloried the progress we’ve made in the last 64 years asking “see where these people have taken the country”. I am very happy Mr. Hazare with where these people have taken this country and with where this country stands today. It’s all set to take its rightful place in the world. It’s all set to become one of the top three countries in the world. This man – who started off as a saintly and humble character – has now started personally accusing senior members of the government including the genial PM himself. Anna, a Gandhian? You got to be kidding me. Anna has become a local thug who needs to be restrained. And restrained soon...
If the leader of this cancerous movement has turned so vicious, what can one expect from his team members? Kiran Bedi’s “nautanki” (drama) at the Ramlila grounds yesterday, while making that hate speech, has upset almost all sane people around the country and made them into opponents of the movement. There was so much viciousness in what she said that it prompted a usually diplomatic Harish Salve to declare “Today, after the Kiran Bedi performance, I declare myself as a member of UNCIVIL Society. And in these circumstances, if police use force, I will have no regrets at all”. Swami Agnivesh and Sri Sri Ravishankar – hitherto firm supporters of Anna are on record to say that they want Anna to become flexible and set aside his fast. Justice Santosh Hegde has crossed over to the other side and asked for this farce to stop. Except for the most fanatical, no one I know supports Anna’s stand any more. Every one I know calls this fast a farce….
At the risk of being called a UPA stooge, I must say that I found Rahul Gandhi’s speech extremely inspiring. His proposal of making the Lokpal into a Constitutional Body akin to the Election Commission was recommended by me on June 9th (that post is available on www.prashantpanday.com since the blog did not exist on timesofindia.com at that time). That’s definitely one of the alternatives worth considering. Even Harish Salve felt that the idea was fresh idea and a damned good one at that. But then that’s the whole problem with this movement. It wants no alternative point to be considered. It wants no intelligent debate. It wants only the opinion of this small section of society – amplified by the frenzied media – to be heard over everything else. It’s much worse than blackmail. It’s a cancer.
If the BJP was opposed to so many points in the past, how has it turned around so quickly? Surely, they should have had a good debate in Parliament without a gun on their hand, and without any motivation of wresting political advantage before changing their mind? The BJP should realize that this disease could kill them. They should remember what happened yesterday when they sent Gopinath Munde and Anant Kumar to the Ramlila grounds; they got booed. In fact, the BJP is being too smart by half. By supporting the inclusion of the lower bureaucracy (thus putting a big burden on the Lokpal), it wants to earn the favor of Team Anna. At the same time, by burdening it so much, it is making sure that it becomes an ineffective law – a law that is impossible to implement – so that it doesn’t bother them in the future. Anna is burdening this country with a monster of a bill and the BJP is supporting it all out for its narrow reasons.
My own personal view is also getting crystallized more and more towards the NCPRI version. I believe strongly that a single Lokpal is a very bad idea. I am convinced that the Lokpal designed in this way WILL surely become corrupt itself. After all, the employees who work in the Lokpal will be paid the same salary as all other poorly paid government employees….and they will wield even higher power. It’s then only natural that the Lokpal will become corrupt. I am also against the lower bureaucracy being covered under the Lokpal – simply because it will make the Lokpal unable to deliver verdicts in under a year. People often forget that even when the Lokpal investigates a charge of corruption; it needs to look at the evidence presented. There needs to be an investigation; evidence needs to be collected; only then can a prosecution happen. What if there are lacs of corruption cases that come up all of a sudden….how will the Lokpal investigate and prosecute on all cases within a year? I am also against the judiciary being covered under the Lokpal. I am also against any legislative involvement in the judicial accountability bill. That’s a bill that should be drafted largely by the judiciary itself without any involvement of Team Anna or others. In short, I am simply not ready to accept the Jan Lokpal as has been proposed by the Anna team. I think it’s a draconian law that should be rejected – in large parts – by Parliament.
But today is not a day to discuss the merits and demerits of the Lokpal Bill. Today is a day to resolve that we will kill this disease. To remove a cancer, we know the treatment that is needed: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, gene therapy, hormone therapy etc. etc. What’s the treatment for curing this civil society disease? 1) Force feed Anna today. Forget the few thousand people at Ramlila grounds – many of them are there only for the free meals being doled out three times a day. The country at large will be with the government if it forcefeeds Anna. 2) Since the ball has been set rolling in Parliament, discuss the matter to the extent possible. Without any pressure. At the end of the day, there is no reason for any resolution. The bills – all of them – must be referred to the standing committee which should be asked to do a thorough job. It doesn’t matter if it takes three months or six. Parliament should then consider the recommendations of the standing committee and vote on it as they feel appropriate. 3) From Monday, stop thinking about Anna. Move on to other things. There are hundreds of other important matters pending. There are millions of other people to cater to.
The real truth is that this movement has become a cancer. And it needs to be treated now. If it’s not treated and killed right now, it will surely devour the entire country. I am with the government if it decides to force feed Anna. I cannot support a movement that divides people into two extreme camps – much like George Bush’s statement “you are either with us or you are with the terrorists” did after 9/11. I am against corruption, and I am also against Anna.