Sunday, October 9, 2011

No Anna, you are not above Parliament…..

You have always thought so; only now you are making a public statement about it. Whether you like it or not; and however good your anti-corruption crusade may be; you are mistaken about your self-assumed position in a democracy. Yes, people are kings in a democracy; but the word “people” is to be understood in the plural sense. It is people power that drives a democratic country; not a single man’s. And with all humility, let me mention that you do not represent the “people” – at least not the way it is understood in a democracy.

No Anna, you are not yet the voice of the “people”. Unfortunately, in our constitutional form of democracy, it’s only the elections that gauge the voice of the people. Elections which are conducted all over the country – from the biggest cities to the smallest villages – unlike your movement which was largely an urban phenomenon and whose scale and impact was exaggerated beyond any logical point. It’s not your self-designed referendums that matter; it is the elections that the EC does that do. It is the ordinary voter spread all across the country whose voice the elections capture. Since you have great disdain for elections, how can you claim to represent the voice of the people?

No Anna, your form of agitation is not suitable for a democratic country. Your movement treats a legally elected government – admittedly with many failings – as subordinate to your not-elected-at-all team. I am sorry but with all their foibles, the politicians are at least responsible to the people. They can be voted in and out of power. Their assets are declared. Their personal lives are made public. If they lie, they are nailed in public. If they are corrupt, their homes are raided in public. But your team has no such compulsions. It doesn’t declare its assets. When questions are raised against the properties owned by your team members, you cry “victimization”.

No Anna, your methods of agitating amount to sheer blackmail. While a fast is a legal way of protesting in a democracy, a fast-unto-death is not. A fast-unto-death is nothing but an attempt at committing suicide and that is illegal in India. Of course, you justify this illegal act on grounds of doing it for the benefit of the country. But if every person started defying the law for the good of the country, what good would it serve? Even the Telengana activists who want to go on a fast-unto-death believe they are doing it for the good of the country. Who is to judge whether what they are doing is indeed for the good of the country or for themselves? It’s again only elections which can decide whose good is being served.

No Anna, you style of politics is unacceptable in a democracy. Today, it is your whim that people should vote against the Congress. Today, you have re-prioritized your agenda from fighting corruption to fighting the Congress. You are willing to ignore the several and severe cases of corruption in the other parties just so that you can teach the Congress a lesson. At the same time, you are not ready to take up the electoral battle yourself. This is totally unacceptable as it amounts to wielding power from the outside. And without the riders of responsibility that come alongwith power.

No Anna, I cannot agree with your belief that the only problem facing India is corruption. There are many other problems that a government has to deal with. Your movement has brought the entire government to a standstill. And while you are not solely responsible for this, you have to agree that your movement has made the government stop in its tracks. Today, decisions are not being taken. Everyone in the government is afraid of making policies; writing their views on internal notes and memos; expressing their opinion in private and public. This has led to a slowdown in economic growth. And a slowdown affects the poor the most. You could have driven your anti-corruption agenda in a different manner. If you hadn’t personalized the fight against corruption as one against the Congress, you would have still achieved your objective, but you would not have led to so much political chaos. It is this political chaos that has led to a freezing in policy decisions.

No Anna, your disregard for the Constitution and for constitutional authorities is unacceptable too. You seem to think that the Parliament is just another building; you forget that it is vested with the sole powers to make laws. You seem to forget that while you can apply pressure on Parliament like you did twice this year, you cannot make the laws yourself. You also seem to have great disdain for the Standing Committee. You seem to think that all MPs are jokers and all of them are corrupt. I am sorry but I cannot agree with this cynical view that you have. You seem to believe that you have been given a god-gifted team that knows everything about corruption and the laws that are needed. You seem to think that only your version of the Lokpal Bill is the right version. You believe that only you have the good of the country at heart – and everyone else is anti-national. I am sorry but I don’t agree with these views of yours. For me, the Constitution is paramount. It can be amended, but even for that, there is a procedure laid down.

No Anna, you are not above Parliament. You are part of the “people” – and a very very important member of the “people”, but you are just that. You have the power that you have – entirely because of the good work you have done in the past – and can use that power to make laws. But to that you need to contest elections directly. But you cannot just sit outside Parliament and say that you are above the Parliament. That’s where you make a mistake. That’s why I think you are shirking your responsibility by not contesting elections directly. Your supporters mention that JP never contested elections and that’s true – but maybe…..just maybe, if JP had contested elections, the Janata Party would not have fallen in just two years? Maybe if you contest elections, we will have a more stable and longer term anti-corruption movement?

Yes Anna, you are a very powerful member of the society. You can shape public opinion. But you have to be much less of a cynical person. Much more of a hopeful one who believes that things can be improved. You have to be a believer in democratic power; not dictatorial blackmail. You have to chastise your team members when they go overboard. You have the power to make a permanent impact on the country; yet you choose to adopt methods that don’t bind people but divide them….

The real truth is that you are not above Parliament Anna. Many in the past have thought the same way and they haven’t left much of a mark on the country…..I hope Anna that you will not make the same mistake…..

1 comment:

  1. It is very easy to remain outside & criticize, it is very populist to criticize from outside but it is very difficult to work & deliver governance from inside, people like Pranab, Chidambaram, Sibal, Salman Khurshid & most of senior Ministers work day in & day out to deliver, even the BJP leaders like Sushma, Jaitley, Advaniji & their CMs like Shivraj, Nitish, Modi work, shoulder responsibility & have ownership of things....but now look at team Anna - striking resemblance between Kejriwal & Bedi - both failed govt officers, both 'deserted' their posts & have never completed their assignments, Anna himself a 7th fail army driver, has never shouldered any responsibilty...and they all riding a populist wave are 'abusing' those in power publicly, I feel our democracy gives too much freedom to so called 'civil society'