Tuesday, October 4, 2011

So Anna will support Mayawati in UP and Modi in Gujarat????

Yesterday’s announcement of Anna to defeat the Congress reflects a political bias that Team Anna has been accused of from the beginning. What prompted the declaration of war against the Congress yesterday?

As per the understanding reached between the government and Anna, the Lokpal Bill was to be re-introduced in Parliament in the winter session. That starts only in November or so. Why then the restlessness about the Bill? Why the need to threaten the Congress at this point in time? Is this about keeping the Congress on tenterhooks? Is this not an unwarranted threat? Or is it to preempt any decision by the Standing Committee and Parliament to pass a law that Team Anna may not like in its entirety?

A look at recent political developments may hold some kind of insight into the reasons for this threat. Reports in the press on Standing Committee meetings indicate that there is very little consensus on the Jan Lokpal Bill. In the secret meetings of the Standing Committee (outside the glare of media cameras), it appears that almost all political parties are opening up and pointing out to the many flaws in the Jan Lokpal Bill. In fact, the discussion in the Standing Committee appears to have been more around Aruna Roy’s version of the Lokpal Bill than Anna’s. On crucial matters like the merging of CBI and CVC with the Lokpal, both those bodies have protested against their dissolution; preferring instead to work alongside the Lokpal.

The BJP has also been speaking from both sides of its mouth. On the one hand, it makes loud claims of supporting the Lokpal in the media. But when one reads the subtext of its support, one realizes that there are many preconditions in the support. For eg., the BJP does not want the PM included under the Lokpal unconditionally. The BJP also doesn’t want the judiciary to be covered under the Lokpal. Likewise on the subject of the Lokpal Bill also giving birth to Lok Ayuktas in the states, the BJP has suggested a clever scheme – make it an enabling provision – meaning that if the state government wants to adopt the same bill, it can. But there is nothing that compels it to! Even on phone tapping powers of the Lokpal, the BJP has opposed Team Anna’s provisions.

So why does Anna want to oppose only the Congress? Is Congress the only corrupt party in the country? Are we to understand that Anna will support the corrupt BJP regime in Uttarakhand which also goes to the polls in 2012? Remember the CAG report against the state government on the Maha Kumbh Mela matter? Of course, one shouldn’t jump to conclusions basis only a CAG report, but Anna seemed to be more than willing to accept the CAG’s observations on the 2G scam. Will Anna ignore the state of affairs in the state which led to the sacking of the CM recently? By opposing the Congress in Uttarakhand, will Anna not indirectly be asking the people to vote for the corruption-tainted BJP government there? What about UP? Is Anna going to support the divisive regime of Mayawati led BSP? What about the Mulayam led SP and the badly fractured BJP against the Congress – which is a small party in the state anyways? Or will Anna ask people to vote against the SP and BSP also – both of which seem to be opposed to Anna’s Jan Lokpal Bill? What about Gujarat – where the Modi government has wielded dictatorial powers to curb any form of dissent against it? Is Anna going to ask people to vote for the BJP simply because it wants to oppose the Congress?

I am happy that Anna is playing a more active political role. But is his entire political strategy only about corruption? Does nothing else matters in politics at all? Even if that is the case, how is he willing to oppose even “clean” Congress candidates simply because they belong to the Congress? A corollary to this is that he would be willing to support a BJP candidate even if he/she is corrupt? What about a BJP candidate who is virulently communal? Guess Anna will support him/her. What about a candidate accused of murder or other heinous crimes, but against whom corruption charges haven’t been framed? Guess Anna will support him/her also. What about those who we know are corrupt but against whom no charges have been framed yet? Guess Anna will go with the public mood – in the belief that the people know it all. What about Goa where the PAC report appears to be casting aspersions against Digambar Kamat’s government. But Digambar Kamat was also the Mining Minister in the BJP government a few years back. And the PAC report (based on the CAG report) covers the BJP period also. So will Anna ignore the performance of Digambar Kamat in the BJP regime and oppose him for his performance in the Congress regime?

If Anna wants to enter politics, he should enter it as a political party. Let him set up a party whose core philosophy is to fight corruption. The problem is that when you set up a political party, you need to take a stand on several other issues as well. Maybe Anna doesn’t want to do that. Because the more you take a particular stand on these issues, the more you alienate some or the other section of the society. In the end, all political parties alienate large sections of the public – which is why most candidates don’t get more than 50% of the votes in any election…..maybe Anna doesn’t want to risk all that.

The real truth is that Anna’s opposition to the Congress by name seems to reflect a larger political orientation that he has. For every 100 words he speaks against the Congress, he speaks less than one against the BJP. Instead of playing surrogate politics, it would be good if he entered politics directly and made his stand on multiple issues clear…..

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