I am so happy that good sense is finally starting to prevail on Team Anna. Two-three statements made yesterday provide an insight into this. Firstly, Anna has decided not to campaign against the Congress in the five poll-bound states. Secondly, and for the first time really, Team Anna issued a statement against the BJP, though it did so only after the RSS itself criticized the party’s decision to induct Kushwaha. And thirdly, Kejriwal wrote a letter admitting that they were lost.
Let’s take each point at a time. Anna’s decision not to campaign against the Congress has more to do with his realization that they were following a wrong strategy than his health. Knowing the feisty spirit that Anna has and the strength of his determination to achieve his goal, I am not ready to believe that health could be the reason for this decision. It doesn’t matter what the public posturing is – I am happy that the decision has been taken. Hopefully, this will bring back the Congress supporters into his movement. It must be pointed out that the mood in Mumbai is distinctly pro-Congress, thanks to the inept governance that the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance has given this city for the last five years. The two rule the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) – the country’s richest municipal corporation. In all likelihood, the alliance is going to lose the elections in February this year……to the Congress-NCP alliance – just as it did most of the municipal council elections across the state last month. This is one reason the crowds did not come to Anna’s fast at the MMRDA grounds. By making the movement apolitical, some of Anna’s initial appeal could well return back.
The second point is equally important and really a continuation of the first point. Finally (hopefully), Anna has realized that the BJP was playing a game all along. By siding with the BJP in spite of all the deceitful support the party extended to him, Anna had made his movement vulnerable to charges of being the B team of the BJP. The bias was so apparent that even though the BJP derailed Anna’s demand of having a common law for Lokpal and Lok Ayukta, not one member of Team Anna raised his/her voice against the party. I am happy that Anna has realized this mistake. I must repeat here – it’s not that the BJP alone is corrupt. That’s certainly not true. ALL parties are corrupt. But Anna’s preference for showing the BJP as a clean party was certainly wrong. I am happy this has been corrected.
It might be worth dwelling on the Lokpal Act passed by the Lok Sabha for a moment. Everyone – the BJP, the TMC and almost all others – have objected to the Lok Ayukta clause. They have used the excuse of “federalism” to put up their resistance. But what is the real truth there? I think the BJP realized early on that the Lokpal Act was a tough one and hence it didn’t want it imposed on the states. But neither it nor the TMC realized that even though the Congress made it optional, there was still a trap that existed. The trap was that if an when a state government decided to have a Lok Ayukta Act, it would be compelled to follow the same terms that the Lokpal Act prescribed for the states. There would be no option to draft a new act for the state. When everyone realized this, they ganged up to scuttle the provision and demand its completed exclusion from the central act. Surely, this is a sign that the central act is a fairly tough one?
The third point is equally important. Kejriwal accepting that the movement is a little lost is indeed the correct statement. But Kejriwal should know the reasons for this state of affairs. I have often argued that if Team Anna does not know how to end this movement in a manner than gives us the Lokpal, they alone will be responsible for letting the country down. Here is what Kejriwal may want to think about. Is it Anna’s job to give the country a solution or should he be the one making sure a solution is designed by Parliament? Has he got the courage to look at his JLP with an open mind? Has he closely read the objections that ALL political parties have raised agains the JLP? This much is clear – the JLP in its current form is surely dead. At least some of the clauses are. It appears that the Lok Ayukta will not be part of the Lokpal Act – unless Anna mounts pressure on the BJP. The separation of powers of investigation, prosecution and adjudication is almost a done deal (this alone will make the JLP less draconian). The good news is that the CBI will be independent – or at least largely independent. The selection process of the CBI Director, the abolition of the need for permission to prosecute, and the entire public discussion on its independence and the hawkish eyes of the media will make sure that the CBI doesn’t become a part of politics in the future.
Team Anna appears to have done at least one good thing in the last few weeks. Their differences with the NCPRI have reduced. That’s good because it signifies the emergence of some sort of consensus amongst the civil society groups as well. Hopefully it also indicates that Team Anna has learnt what humility is.
What should be done now is that pressure must be mounted on the BJP to make sure it supports the Lokpal Bill as passed by the Lok Sabha. There may be some flaws in the Act, but those can be corrected in the future. Its important that politics does not come in the way of the passage of the bill.
The real truth is that if Team Anna corrects its way, it will be good for all. The country will benefit from the enactment of the Lokpal Act – even though (like I have said earlier), we need to look at the root causes of corruption to eliminate the scourge. Once the Lokpal Act is passed, Team Anna can look at electoral reforms. That’s the starting point of all corruption in the country. I am also hopeful that once the Lokpal issue is over, the country can get back to doing business – and facing the challenges that face us in our face.