Saturday, August 13, 2011

Let Anna go to the SC for his permission to fast-unto-death

Since Team Anna finds the 22 conditions imposed by the Delhi Police to be unconstitutional, it should go the Supreme Court seeking justice. Unless of course they believe that even the Supreme Court is hand-in-glove with the government and will deny them any relief. Unless they think that the SC also is interested in protecting it’s own corruption, and hence is against Anna’s Lokpal Bill.

What does Anna’s team expect the SC to say? That yes, please do go ahead and fast-unto-death? As far as I know, suicide is illegal in India, and a fast-unto-death is nothing but a suicide. How the SC will be able to give an unconditional approval to Anna’s fast is something I cannot understand. At the very minimum, they will have to put conditions that prevent a suicide from taking place. Conditions like the number of days the fast can be held for. Conditions like doctors checking on Anna’s health three times a day. Conditions like an ambulance remaining parked all day long at the venue. Etc etc. Anything that is required to avoid a suicide. In short, conditions like the government has itself put.

The Supreme Court will also not be able to waive off its own ruling which forbids usage of loudspeakers from 10 pm to 6 am. Everyone who organizes large scale events knows how silly this order can sometimes appear to be, but it’s been around for several years now. From what I gather, the CM of every state is given a leeway of 15 days when he/she can extend this deadline till 12 midnight. That relaxation is usually granted for religious festivals. And even then, the relaxation is only till midnight. The order is appears silly because it doesn’t matter to the SC where the event takes place. Even if it’s in the middle of nowhere, the loudspeakers have to stop at 10 pm. An order is an order. In Anna’s case, does he really expect the SC to intervene to set aside its own order?

The Supreme Court will also have to consider the real motives behind the fast. The exhortations that are already being made by Anna’s team are scary enough. One mailer/sms doing the rounds is urging people to take 7 days off from work to support Anna. Another one is asking people who support Anna to call a number and give a missed call. Apparently, the government has thrown a challenge that there must be 25 crore missed calls for Anna to prove to the government that he has the support of the people. Such arbitrary talk usually precedes any revolution. When logic ceases to matter and pure emotions rule. Such emotions lay the foundation for a lot of assembled people to lose control and resort to violence. For one leader after another to go on to the stage and push people a little more; for people to sing patriotic songs and raise the frenzy; for the organizers to call it the 2nd freedom movement. The SC has to keep in mind the repercussions of all this. This so called “revolution” could easily deteriorate into a law and order situation. Will the SC be interested in taking the responsibility upon itself to overturn the restrictions put by the government?

Besides, the SC will have to mull the question: What is the real purpose of this revolution? What motive does it have? If one goes by Anna’s announcements in media, the motive is to force the government to accept whatever Anna is saying, even if it may not be right. The SC cannot accept such motives. Actually, no constitutional set-up can. That’s why ALL political parties are worried. It’s easy for the BJP to say that they support Anna (even though they don’t really), but what will they say when Anna’s fast enters the third….fourth….fifth day? What will the Left say? That ok, we agree to all your terms, but please give up your fast? If that’s acceptable, then why don’t the Left, the BJP and the regional parties simply announce that they will accept all conditions in the Standing committee of Parliament? If all of them say it, then where is the need for this struggle? Anna’s bill will become law. But the truth is that they cannot say that. And rightly so.

It is this aggressive attitude…..and irrationality…..of Team Anna that has alienated many sections of the society. Now, in addition to the usual comments I get from people who call me a supporter of corruption, there are many who agree with my viewpoint. That this is pure blackmail. That’s why media itself is becoming much more circumspect. Everyone realizes that the ransom has been set. The negotiations are a mere formality. The original motive of the movement already appears to have gone haywire. The motive now is clearly not to work within the constitution or even the ethos of Indian politics – that things move slowly; a step at a time; the motive now is to create a “revolution”. That’s why Anna’s team is not interested in other more peaceful forms of protests – serial fasts for example…..or fasting for a pre-announced finite period of time etc.

If I go by the feedback I receive on my blog or by the exhortations of some of Anna’s team members, I am forced to conclude that Anna’s team wants to throw out democracy itself. For them, all politicians are corrupt and all of them must be thrown out. Anna’s team does not want to answer the question: how will the next breed of politicians be any different if the process that creates them remains as dirty as ever? Since Anna’s team is not interested in electoral reforms, how will better quality people be able to climb the huge wall of elections? Since Anna’s team is not interested in looking at the problems that start corruption in the first place, how will they ensure that the clean people who join government (if at all they do) don’t become corrupt….at least to a limited extent? So if Anna’s fast-unto-death unleashes a revolution that de-stabilizes the nation; that leads to chaos and anarchy; that possibly leads to a civil war; then the SC has no option but to recommend the squashing the fast.

The government obviously finds itself in a rotten position. I might add: for no fault of its own. It has made an attempt to satisfy the civil society movement. But it finds itself unable to go the whole hog. For whatever reasons. Nor could any other political party have gone the whole hog. Least of all the BJP which is unable to provide suitable answers for corruption in Karnataka. Nor able to answer why its successive governments in states like Gujarat have failed to enact a Lok Ayukta Act. For the government, the only solace is that no political party has been able to take advantage of the mess. So much has been brought out in the CNN-IBN polls as well. While the Congress is seen as suffering, no other party is seen as gaining. Again, the India Today poll (I have still to read the details) says something similar if I remember from what Headlines Today put out yesterday. That the Congress would lose quite a few seats compared to 2009, but it would still be the largest alliance.

The government will surely remember the price of inaction. It was faced by a similar situation in 1992 in Ayodhya when there appeared to be a “huge people’s movement” there. The real objectives of the people were subsequently shown to be totally different from they kept saying. The only difference then was that it was an open political fight between the BJP government in the state and the Congress government at the center. Right now, the Anna movement’s political alignment looks a little hazy – it sometimes looks like a surrogate BJP movement, but it sometimes looks like its not. In 1992, the Congress trusted the BJP state government with its word that there would be no violence in Ayodhya. It chose not to act. The results were soon there for all to see. India got shamed around the world. There were riots in which thousands died. There are bomb blasts that continue to happen till this date that can be linked back to the hurt a section of our own society felt. And why not? You cannot go about destroying religious monuments of any community. You cannot quote from history when Muslim invaders destroyed Hindu temples to justify acts of reprisal in today’s times. The Congress lost heavily as a result of the Ayodhya movement. They were seen as the ones who caused the Babri demolition. Strangely, it was not the BJP/UP government which got the flak. It was the central government that got it. Why? Because the rules say that if there is an anticipated law and order problem, then the central government must intervene. It didn’t and hence paid the price.

It must be a feeling of déjà vu for the Congress. Not intervening will be seen as inaction by a large number of people who don’t support Anna’s ways. And if something goes wrong, they will not forgive the Congress. The Indian people don’t want troubles; and if there are troubles, they will blame the central government.

The real truth is that India is going to be raped next week. By civil society which WILL break all limits imposed on them. By the thousands who will throng the venue by taking the law into their own hands. By media which will continue to sensationalize the matter. By the opposition which will try to gain politically. By the government which will lose its balance in the face of this crisis. One thing is clear. This is doing no good to India. This movement has gone on too long. This movement is nothing but the egoistic struggle of a small bunch of people, who do not believe in the process of democracy. India will get raped….

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