The Anna movement has died. Instead of achieving something tangible for the nation, the movement has died an embarrassing death, mired as it was in an intrigue of personal political ambitions, prime time TV fame, and a penchant for thuggery. I cant say I am happy with this end, but I think this end was perhaps better than what the movement could have ended up with – a dismantling of all that democratic India stands for.
From the moment the movement began, there were seriously doubts about its political affiliation. Rather than curb those doubts, considering how important it is for any such movement to be so, Team Anna went about the issue in a cavaliar manner. Focusing on attacking solely the Congress, Team Anna’s pathetic reasoning for doing so made matters worse. For if one believed them, the reason was that it was the Congress that ruled at the Center. Observers pointed out that most corruption happens at local, state levels, and that the team should equally focus on that aspect, but Team Anna didn’t want to understand. Even a political novice understood that the Congress was only heading a coalition government and that other parties had a role to play as well, but Team Anna did not want to understand this. Given the general level of intelligence in the team (not that Magsaysay awards are any evidence of that), one was led to believe that Team Anna knew everything and still did what it did.
The last straw – for the common man, not the Congress – was the campaigning in Hisar. It was clear by then that the man from Hisar – Arvind Kejriwal – had a different agenda for himself. The man from Ralegan Siddhi was merely a tool to pitchfork himself right to the top. If there was one other last straw moment, it would have to be Kiran Bedi’s “nautanki” on the stage at the Ramlila grounds. Her mockery of the entire political class – with no inclination to explaining her own “hand in the till” accusations – forced people to wonder if they were any different really.
There were many other things of course. Anna’s association with the very RSSesque Ramdev and his aversion to criticizing the BJP (the only lame excuse being that it was Justice Santosh Hegde – a Team Anna member – who had exposed the Karnataka mining scam) firmly established the movement’s political ambitions.
It now appears – and this is surprising – that Anna was unhappy from the beginning with Kejriwal’s political posturing. That he never wanted to associate with politics. But there is a problem with this approach also. For most have said that it is easy to criticize something from the outside, but the real test would be if someone could clean up the mess from the inside. Anna’s movement grew on the back of a huge public disenchantment with corruption, but it was fading because the movement appeared to lack any serious commitment to finding a solution. In fact, finding a solution was never the plan. The Jan Lokpal Bill was in fact the Jan Jokepal Bill; but the team attempted to give this description to the Government’s Lokpal Bill. No one was convinced with the provisions of the JLB, and yet Team Anna was unwilling to budge. Silly handling the issue in the early days gave Team Anna a huge lift upwards, and the government a quick burial. But as the truth emerged, people were fed up with the repeated acts of drama – fasts included – being enacted in the public domain. Enough was enough. The movement was damned.
Now, the two camps – Kejriwal’s and Anna’s – cannot badmouth each other enough. Kejriwal’s deceit is apparent again – claiming Anna had always supported his political plans and that he will come around eventually – though Anna clearly denies all this. Anna’s own credibility is suspect considering he was the fount of the entire movement which was orchestrated by Kejriwal. His own statements had always been raucous and destructive and similar sounding to Kejriwal’s. How could he now claim to be the innocent saint?
The mistake Anna made was that he surrounded himself with politically motivated bunch of narcissistic people. Those who valued TV prime time more than the success of the movement itself. But Anna had himself to blame also. He failed to recognize when the movement should have ended. He failed to be pragmatic; he should have taken the Lokpal Bill that the government passed in the Lok Sabha and then worked towards its improvement. But no, he wanted nothing but his own bill. In a democratic set-up, this was unfair and too much to expect. What else could the outcome have been. The wait for the Lokpal will now be much longer – though I for one have not been in favor of yet another law on curbing corruption; especially one that would have ended up creating another corrupt bureaucratic body.
The real truth is that Anna himself is responsible for the way his movement has got derailed. He is now trying to make amends. He has declared he wont fast again. Thank god for that. He will still engage with the movement. But the time has passed. The country has moved on. The golden moment has been lost for ever…..