There has been some heated discussions in the social media about Anna Hazare and Jan Lok Pal bill. Even though I have written a couple of posts about why I do not join hands with Anna Hazare and the knee jerk activism of middle-class, I think a summary post will be good so that I can save sometime typing the same thing again and again, rather direct people with questions here. So here are my views.
Why are you anti-Anna?
Because the man has a dubious character. He had praised Narendra Modi for his ‘development’ work in Gujarat which is refuted by other Gandhians like Himanshu Kumar. In Anna’s words, the only thing that Modi has to do to become a 100% perfect chief minister is to accept the Lokpal system. Later he white-washed his own words though; by saying “I am equally opposed to any form of communal disharmony“. Remember, Hazare was talking about a chief minister who still refuses to take the blame for his alleged support to a massacre.
Anna Hazare has also openly supported the MNS chief Raj Thackeray. And you know who Mr. Thackeray is and what his politics are. Cunning old man did not forget to add his Gandhian thought that ‘but damaging public and national property was not right‘. Everything else in the MNS regionalist game seems to be good for Hazare.
Hazare’s ways are autocratic than being democratic. It is evident from the way he has modeled the fight against corruption. He pushed his own bill without coming to a consensus between the civil society members themselves. This kind of attitude that ‘only-my-draft-is-right‘ is fascist. I cannot trust a man like him to take up the leadership or to represent the civil society. Supporting a man like him can only invite grave dangers to democracy.
But Anna Hazare is a widely trusted man who has built a model village called Ralegan Siddhi.
You should first read about how this so-called model village was built. I don’t see anything to model after a village where their moral was built on flogging and fear. I mean, even Adolf Hitler wanted to create a ‘puritan’ society based on fear and physical punishment and he had his ways to do it. Or even Narendra Modi had a lesson to teach people and now he is talking about development (no wonder why Anna supports Modi). Indira Gandhi had her ways to make citizens ‘responsible’ through Emergency. Ralegan Siddhi is a village where Anna ‘had the practical experience of need of force while implementing family planning measures’ and where there has been no grama panchayat elections in the last 24 years and no election to co-operative societies. That is not a model village, in my opinion.
Whatever his persona is, it was because of him that the government was forced to consider Jan Lokpal Bill. And you have to give him credits for that.
I will not. Because if he deserve any credit, it is for driving the movement in the wrong direction. Anna is an icon that was purposefully created by his team and the media. How many of us even knew about his existence in the last year? But then the media came and created a saint out of Anna. He seems to enjoy such publicity too. Then his own team started the beatification process. It grew up to a level where his own team members have said “ultimately, the power is with Anna, so whatever Anna says has to be accepted“. From then on it became a fascist, autocratic movement that can threaten the very basis of democracy.
But he had massive support of the people!
Have you ever thought about this sudden outrage of people, after all these years? Is it because the thought that ‘enough-is-enough‘ was sprouted one fine day? I don’t think so. Every generation is looking for some kind of revolution to take part. They want to witness something incredible in their life time and there could not be a better time than this season of revolutions world wide, especially in the middle-eastern countries. The youth, the middle-class and the national media were all missing this sort of fun and that is how Hazare, the mass icon, was born. You say ‘Anna is India, India is Anna‘. Anna alone is not India or India is not just Anna. India is you. And me. Us. Not Anna’s sole property.
By the way, a journalist friend from Delhi told me that Ramlila Maidan might have had just about 20,000 people at maximum and different media houses have added the numbers they liked, even to lakhs. And this 20,000 out of 1.21 billion people is called ‘massive support’?
But don’t you agree that the movement has made a change in the attitude of government towards the bill?
Yes, but it had the wrong nature and direction. And remember that it is only a small hurdle that is just passed and the time to rejoice is far away. I think this movement could have been driven in the right direction and still could make the change but the aggression of Hazare, his team, media, and the middle-class crusaders made it impossible.
You call it knee-jerk activism of the middle-class.
Yes, because I haven’t seen such enthusiasm of this so-called urban, semi-urban middle-class ‘activists’ changing their profile pic to Gandhi caps, defending Anna Hazare, or asking for their rights on any other issues of greater importance. They kept a criminal silence on several national and local issues and now they speak up.
People would speak up only about issues that they are directly affected by. Isn’t it justified?
No, it is not. Selective response is not a justifiable response at all. That is called hypocrisy. And the silence on the issues that people in your own or other parts of the country are facing, is criminal. To me, corruption doesn’t have a greater importance than north-eastern crisis or dalit/tribal issues or people being displaced in the name of development. The fact that Binayak Sen or Irom Sharmila doesn’t inspire you alone is proof of how you choose your icons or rather how you play into the hands of media and a group of people.
Are you pro-Government?
Yes, I am pro-Government but not pro-current-Government. I am also pro-Democracy. But I am not pro-Congress if your question was in that direction. You can do a search in my blog to see how much I have talked about the regional and national politics of Congress. You can start with searching the tag “congress party” in this blog.
Okay. So do you support the government draft of the bill?
No. Everybody knows that the government draft is crass. At the same time, I think there should not be a bad practice in place as a model for future agitations and protests. And in a democracy, consensus should be worked on first. Now there are four drafts in place (Jan Lok Pal, NCPRI’s draft, Loksatta’s draft and Bahujan Lok Pal) and the parliament should consider all four and act accordingly.
Well, that’s all I have to say about Jan Lok Pal for now.