Friday, December 23, 2011

A slap on Team Anna’s wrists by the Bombay HC….

Thankfully, the courts have not been swayed by the extreme coercion practiced by Team Anna. Thankfully, the Bombay High Court showed it had the spine to severely rebuke Team Anna for demanding concessions from the MMRDA. In many ways, the word “demanding” summarizes all that is wrong with the Anna movement. Team Anna believes it is god’s gift to mankind and has a birthright to “demand” anything from anybody. In this specific case, they have been shown their place by the HC.

Why is it that Team Anna always speaks in a belligerent and abusive tongue? Why is it that Team Anna members believe that all their demands should be conceded? That if they aren’t, then that is tantamount to the oppression of an ordinary citizen’s movement by an all-powerful establishment. Why is it that Team Anna has forgotten basic decency – that which is required when speaking to any official of the Government of India or of any state Government? After all, ministers and officials draw their status from the Constitution itself – denigrating them is denigrating the Constitution itself, isn’t it? That’s why in communication with government officials, the word “Hon’ble” is put before the position, not the name of the individual (for eg., it’s Hon’ble PM, Shri MMS…..not Hon’ble Shri MMS, PM of India). Why is it that Team Anna’s language is so uncivilized when they claim their movement is exactly that? Even Anna’s personal language is so foul most people feel a little hurt.

Team Anna could have made a “request” to the CM of Maharashtra (as distinct from an individual called Prithviraj Chauhan who Team Anna may well dislike) for a reduction of rates for the MMRDA grounds in Mumbai. They say that politeness can make an arch enemy into a binding friend. But Team Anna was in no mood to make a request. For them, it had to be a “demand”. After all, they had many thousands of people supporting them. After all, they had so much of media backing their every demand (or so they think). Why should they bother about civilities? For them, a demanding, abusive and preaching tone it has to be.

The Bombay HC order itself is nothing out of the ordinary. Of course, the courts are not interested in directing the MMRDA to give a concession. Why should the MMRDA give a discount at all? But more than the order itself, it’s the tone of the court’s order that Team Anna should ponder over. Even if they don’t accept the court’s criticism in public, they must give it a good and deep thought in their internal meetings.

The Bombay HC has said many things. Some of these are reproduced here from today’s TOI and yesterday’s story:

  • The court cannot conclude whether the agitation is in public interest or politically motivated (Of course their movement is political. Of course, they are a BJP set-up. Why else does no Anna team member express shock or anger at the BJP’s u-turn on the Lok Ayukta matter?)
  • It might be Satyagraha for you but for some other factions it might be a nuisance (Absolutely right again – the entire agitation has become a nuisance for the country’s governance and for parliamentary working. Besides, what about different views that different sections of civil society have?)
  • Continue to agitate in your homes, gardens and maidans. (But then how would Team Anna get media support and fame?)

The court also brought out the Parliament’s supremacy with respect to law making:
  • Your elected representatives are already debating on your behalf. To allow a parallel type of canvassing to decide whether the Lokpal Bill has to be passed or not, we’ll be acting contrarily (Absolutely right…..but who’s going to drill this into Team Anna’s head?)
  • By allowing you to agitate, would it not amount to interference in the functioning of Parliament? (Indeed)
  • Passing a bill is a prerogative of Parliament. If we interfere it will be against the constitution (But does Team Anna even believe in the Constitution?)
  • The bill is being debated in Parliament. We cannot interfere in parliamentary function (Does Team Anna believe in Parliament? Kejriwal has stated that he has little faith in Parliament – today’s TOI).
  • Till now the bill has not been passed. No one knows what form and what features it will have. Is public debate permissible at this stage?
  • How is country's interest involved? We are a democratic set up. We have elected a government. Wouldn't your agitation interfere in the functioning of Parliament? The bill will be debated in Parliament where our elected representatives will plead our case (Harsh words indeed).
  • If the act is passed there is remedy available to challenge it (So many have been saying this…..but for Team Anna, it’s an ego issue now)

The courts observations in many ways summarize the mood amongst many sections of society – those who may not be organized enough to stage dharnas. There are many who carry strong views against the movement (at least now), but they don’t get the chance to express themselves on TV and on internet sites. These are the people who express their views by voting in or voting out their representatives. The ultimate proof of whether the people of India supported the Indo-US nuclear deal came when the voting in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections took place, right? Team Anna however believes that it knows best; it alone represents the voice of the people; those who oppose the JLP are corrupt; all Parliamentarians are jerks and even the entire Constitution is a piece of toilet paper.

The judiciary has given the rap that the Anna movement needed. The judiciary has done yet again what no politician could ever think of doing. Politicians want to be seen as being on the right side of Anna – even if they oppose the movement covertly. We saw how the BJP did a flip-flop on the Lok Ayukta business – all along; they had been saying that the same Central Act can bring the Lok Ayuktas into existence – now they have back-tracked totally. And like I mentioned earlier, Team Anna has not deemed it necessary to grill the BJP for this.

Most likely, Team Anna will say that the judiciary itself has an axe to grind – hence they are also against the Anna movement. That they are worried about Anna’s next agitation – which could be against them. But then hasn’t that been their defining characteristic? That they deride everyone who says anything against them? This is what has antagonized so many people – and definitely most of the intelligentsia.

The real truth is that it would be smart if Anna brought the movement to a quick end and salvaged whatever honor and dignity and support it still has left. The politicians are about to unite – and if they do so, there will be no stopping them from passing a law that will intentionally cock a snook at Anna. If Anna were smart, he would retract for now – and live to fight another day when he could “demand” improvements. Let’s see if Anna reads the writing on the wall…… or if he lets his wayward team drive the movement into a hole.

1 comment:

  1. Trying to post a comment. Hope it goes thru. This entire Team Anna issue has brought forth a completely new question to the forefront- is Popular Democracy the best form of governance. Today, Anna enjoys so much popularity he cud easily win an election. For a moment imagine that happens. And by a leap of imagination lets imagine, that by a popular vote, Team Anna power.....what will happen to this country? There wud be economic upheavel bec no one in fhat team has any idea about Commrce and Economics. The entire country wud become a prohibition state and anyone found drinking would be "belted" publicly (is it conjuring images of saudi arabia). The entire country would become a Police State (much like China) bec EVERYONE wud be viewed suspiciously. Courts wud have to get their decisions ratified by some supreme body (like Lokpal). There wud be very low.tolerence for anything that is western (bec Anna's Gandhian "jeans" are going to kick in. In short its likely fo become an over disciplinarian state slowly inching towards authoritarianism and then finally totalitarianiam. Now all this may be an exxagerrated extrapolation of a democratic possibility, but the point is that Popular Democracy can pretty much yield this sort of a.scenerio. Which is what has really started bofhering me. Before this Democracy was the unrivalled option of governance. But now, while not going as far as saying that "masses are asses", I have been acutely aware of the "thinking abilities" of the common man. Hence the trepidition of handing over my own fate to those chosen by a band of people who cud well be suffering from the syndrome of "limited thinking*