I am not even sure if another post is required on this very tired movement…..a movement that got wrecked by a bad team and wrongful leadership. Coming after a 3 month hiatus, the one-day fast by Anna at Jantar Mantar was more of the same stale fare that this country has got fed up with and discarded.
From media reports, one learns that there were not even 4000 people at the fast; this on a balmy spring day in a very politically aware and savvy capital. Of these, it can be safely assumed that a thousand odd would be media people; another thousand odd would be the show organizers, event managers, security personnel and the like. Where does that leave the actual crowd support? Less than what Anna got in Mumbai? Is this real bite??
And what was the issue that was being raised this time? The demand for a “strong” whistleblower bill? A “strong” Lokpal bill also perhaps? And while we are making demands, why not demand the resignation of the UPA government also? Ooops, would that be going too far? Let the BJP do that. Anna will limit himself to asking for some FIRs to be registered against some politicians – not surprisingly most of them part of the anti-BJP brigade.
Register FIRs? Why should the government register FIRs against its own ministers? Anyone can do that. Why can’t the common public file an FIR? Why can’t Prashant Bhushan – the hot shot PIL expert and leading anti-Congress light – file an FIR? But then, this is not the only ludicrous part of the demands that was made yesterday. How come there were no BJP leaders named against whom FIRs should be filed, except Yeddy, who everyone knows has become a thorn in the flesh of the BJP? Why not against the MP CM Shivraj Chauhan against whom enough and more accusations have been made of late with respect to illegal mining? Why not against Modi against whom the CAG has made several accusations over the years? Why only against Congress leaders, and other anti-BJP crusaders like Mayawati?
If Anna’s fight is against corruption, then why not against Baba Ramdev, who has enough to account for in terms of hawala transactions and illegal assets held abroad? If we are going by mere accusations (and I have no idea if the accusations are right or wrong), then surely an FIR against Baba Ramdev is justified? In fact, not only did Anna not demand an FIR against Baba Ramdev; he exhorted his supporters (who were where?) to support his movement. Great.
In case Anna forgot, the Whistleblower bill has already been introduced in Parliament and is with the Standing Committee where his favority party will have the chance to add value if it deems fit. Hopefully, it will not do a “Lok Ayukta” kind of trick with this bill. Even if it does, it needn’t worry about attacks from Anna. Anna was most understanding of the BJP’s volte face on the Lok Ayukta issue after all. Not once has Anna demanded that the BJP explain this volte face. Not once has Anna taken the BJP to task. But then, the Lok Ayukta turnaround is not the only point where Anna has been kind to the BJP. When the Bihar legislature adopted a Lok Ayukta Act which was way below Anna’s expectations, there was nothing more than a mere whimper of a protest. When Modi sat on the appointment of a Lok Ayukta in Gujarat for so long and when the Governor finally chose one, Anna never criticized Modi.
Nor has Anna demanded answersfrom the Left parties on the weak Lok Ayukta Act that they introduced in WB and Tripura when they were ruling. If one thought that Anna had learnt a lesson and had changed tracks, yesterday’s event shows that that was not true.
Frankly I had written about this earlier; and I will write this again. The only party that is pushing for the Lokpal is the Congress. Maybe it’s because it’s been hit black and blue and wants to prevent any more damage. Maybe because it sees an opportunity to gain some lost ground. People may disagree with how strong the bill passed in the Lok Sabha is – and there will always be differing viewpoints in a democracy – but at least something has been passed. After waiting for 42 years, I think it is important to first secure some law. It can always be amended in due course of time. There can be no denying that that bill was passed only because of the Congress’s push; and in spite of the BJP’s resistance. Had the BJP had its way, it would have blocked it in the Lok Sabha also.
The real truth is that much of Anna’s threats are just that…..threats. There is hardly anything new; and hardly anything that lifts the movement from the mess it got into. The people of this country are horrified with the corruption; and they want action; but they are equally disillusioned with the movement that promised the earth and the moon but could not even deliver the most rudimentary form of the requisite legislation. Anna’s movement doesn’t deserve the front pages of the newspapers or the prime slot on the 9 pm news bulletins any longer….