Monday, November 7, 2011

Good that Anna is reconstituting his team….

This was long overdue. The good movement that Anna started had picked up (quite unnecessarily really) a little bit of a bad name in the last two months. One controversy after another involving one team member after another had started to take the focus off the main issue. I am happy that Anna has decided to reconstitute his core team – hopefully the new team will not have Kejriwal and Bedi in it.

The whole point is that all this was so unnecessary. The movement was going along just fine and the nation had been primed up to expect nothing short of a very strong Lokpal Bill. But then the personal ambitions of a few team members got in the way of the overall objective. What was the need for Kejriwal to decide to campaign against one single party in Hisar – the Congress – even though candidates from the other parties were no better on the corruption scale? This one decision antagonized many in the country – and led to the departure of two key Anna aides – PV Rajagopal and Rajendra Singh. Even though I don’t know if this is true, I am told that Anna was never in favor of campaigning against the Congress at that stage. No wonder then that he mentioned later that he wouldn’t campaign against the Congress (It’s a different matter that he’s done a U-turn on this now – but that’s perhaps more to do with the barbs that Digvijay Singh unnecessarily keeps throwing at him).

Then this episode yesterday in Nagpur when Anna supporters bashed up people protesting against Kejriwal’s rants against the Congress. Apparently, they were members of a body which supports the Congress. All along, whenever Anna members had protested, no one had attacked them. Then why this attack by Kejriwal’s team on the Congress supporters? What wrong had they done? If they support the Congress, they are bound to raise slogans to defend their party of choice. As per media reports, their protests were peaceful. Again, this shows a certain fascist edge that the movement has picked up. Some others close to the movement have complained that this is Kejriwal’s style – he fixes the agenda, he fixes the strategy and he fixes the timelines. No one – not even Anna – can come in his way. I think if Anna takes him out of the core team, Kejriwal would have been given the right treatment.

Then take Kiran Bedi. I hold her guilty of acting holier-than-thou. Her skit at the Ramlila grounds deriding all politicians really got my goat. Is it her point that all politicians are corrupt? If she thinks its ok to mock politicians, then why is not ok if some politicians mock her (by taunting her for her crimes)? And what about her joy and enthusiasm on getting a call from Advani a day before the Parliament was to take up the “sense of the house” motion? What was that all about? Advani surely hasn’t helped in selecting a strong Lokpal in Gujarat. Nor has he taken steps to make the law any stronger in that state. Yes, he’s passed a new Lokpal Act in Uttarakhand, but that somehow smells of nothing but an opportunistic move. I am told that if the Centre passes a new Lokpal Act which has provisions to cover the states, then the Centre’s law will prevail over the state’s law. So convenient!

Kiran Bedi really lost her mojo after the sting that Indian Express did – exposing her travel claims scam. After that, she was just another activist – hiding her own skeletons even while pointing her fingers at skeletons in other people’s closets. She just has to go.

Anna must think why Kejriwal and Bedi did not even offer to resign after all the controversies erupted. One has to give it to the politicians. They resign when it gets embarrassing – maybe only when it gets really bad. But they do resign. Yeddy resigned. Chavan resigned. Pokhriyal resigned. Raja resigned. Political parties do act – maybe not as often and as fast as they should – but they do act. What about Anna? Has he acted even once? I hope this is the time when he shows his resolve. I hope he now sacks Kejriwal and Bedi.

I also heard that Anna is going to make his team more representative of the reality of India. So there are going to be members from the minorities, from the underprivileged sections and so on in the core team. This is a very good move. This is real India. A heterogeneous bunch of people. If a movement has to be truly national and representative of all, then sometimes it is necessary to make the public face of that movement also representative. Again, it is not Kejriwal and Bedi who suggested this move. This looks like its Anna’s decision. And it’s the right decision.

I wish Anna would also become a little more flexible. On deadlines that he has set for Parliament. On the specific clauses which he wants included in the Lokpal Bill. No one in this country can dictate terms to Parliament. One has to rely on the wisdom of that august body. Yes, there are some black sheep out there, but not all are of the same kind. I am told that many many Parliamentarians are active social workers – and have devoted a lifetime to public good. Along the way, the realities of political life may have made them make compromises – but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad people. Many of them internally want changes in the system – and are looking to lend their support to a bill that helps eliminate this scourge of corruption. That’s why activists like Anna must have faith in the system – even if they have been let down in the past. They have to work with Parliamentarians. Success is not going to come in one single step. There will have to be many amendments to the law. That’s why I like the proposal to make the Lokpal a Constitutional body. That way, no future government can dismantle the Lokpal….

The real truth is that Anna’s movement had got sidetracked because of Kejriwal and Bedi. I hope he can bring it back to the center again. Anna must now struggle to get some of the more committed, but lower profile people back in the team – Justice Hegde has left the team for all practical purposes. He must join the movement with his full commitment. Rajendra Singh and Rajgopal must join back too. And my humble request to Anna is to keep the eyes on the big picture – not get bogged down by small details. The Lokpal Bill may satisfy him entirely – but there will always be another day to make amends…..

1 comment:

  1. When you know that you are up against a stronger opposition, you have to resort to guerilla warfare to weaken the opposition. That is exactly what Kejriwal did by campaigning against the Congress in Hisar. It was near certain that Bishnoi would win the election. In such a situation, campaigning against the Congress was all the more appropriate as it would not only make the Congress think twice, but also give a fillip to the Anti Corruption movement in India. When the righteous side can't win by fair means, there is nothing worng in resorting to some controversial means. Examples of such controversies can be found across our religious scriptures such as Ramayana and Mahabharata.

    In the Mahabharata, didn't the Pandavas kill Drona by deceit, by announcing that Ashwatthama had died? Lord Krishna says - "Deceit is acceptable against a deceitful foe."

    Today, the Congress is a deceitful foe of the country. It is trying to put an end to the anti-corruption by hook or by crook. All these rants against Kejriwal and Bedi are illustrations of the impending fear within the Congress.

    May God give Anna, Kejriwal, Bedi and numerous others the courage to fight the evil of corruption.