ANNA Hazare has united the nation against corruption. And cornered the Congress. The Manmohan-Sonia nautanki has been exposed with a deafening declaration that the people are the sovereign in a democratic polity. Is it the death knell for dynasty politics?
Fortunately, Anna has ignited a new sense of patriotism. The movement marked the assertion of an infectious brand of vitality, verve and élan. An assertive, demanding and incredible sense of national honour. Sixty five years after independence, the people of India have again seized the initiative. Again, Vande Matram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai have become fashionable. The battle cry of a resurgent India. On the vanguard is the youth. Anna has presented a promising national agenda.
This may not be India’s Jasmine Revolt or August Revolution, but the nation in one voice has expressed its disapproval of the UPA trademark of loot and scoot. The people will no longer tolerate the disdain of the political class towards those who elect them.
The Congress, cleverly, with some support from other political parties, tried to pit the Parliament against the people’s agitation. What we are witnessing in the streets of India is a rebellion against the tyranny of the elected representatives. The men and women whom the people have elected in good faith have started behaving as masters enjoying all privileges, power and pelf with a blind eye to the suffering of the voting class.
The demand for the Lokpal Bill is only symbolic of an aspiration for a truly democratic and benign social order. There is no point repeating the voluminous corruption charges against the rulers. It will not be an exaggeration to say that it has crossed all horizons of human imagination in this country.
Some say, corruption has become a way of life. That nobody is insulated from its scourge. When Anna started the movement early this year most people were skeptical about its success. Opposition parties had from time to time tried to organise agitations, dharnas and demonstrations against price rise and corruption without much impact. For almost a year, Baba Ramdev was going from village to village creating mass awareness against corruption. But the general feeling was that with the existing leadership in the political set up there was no chance for a large scale mass action. This made the ruling party brazen. The match was fixed and the game was to prove all are equally corrupt. The voters were presented with a fait accompli. You choose from the same basket of rotten apples or get lost. Everybody, knew that JP-moment had arrived, but there was no JP in sight. JP had propounded right to recall as an article of faith. An inseparable ingredient of a vibrant democracy. He had challenged the Emergency regime’s arrogant claim that once elected “you huff and puff but suffer us for full five years”. Of late, the establishment has perfected the system of sharing the booty with all in the circus. The people lost.
Anna has fitted into that vacuum. He is not after power, but to define the limits of power in democracy and remind our rulers that ultimately the veto is with the people. He emerged as the new messiah, the one whose word carried tremendous appeal. His detractors lost face. All actions and arguments proved counter productive. His charisma bridged all differences. And his biggest support came from the youth, and the class of people who are generally bracketed as indifferent, apolitical, perhaps even those non-voting section. That Anna was able to politicise all of them—make them interested and concerned citizens—in itself is a great achievement.
It is Anna’s unblemished record of public service, his credibility that proved unassailable for the government. The Congress Party’s ham-handed methods did not work against Anna. At every point, the government had to capitulate before Anna because his campaign is genuine, selfless and in public interest. He presented a new ray of hope for the people who had lost all faith in the political leadership. Equally, the mass simmering anger against corruption, black money and price rise had taken the lid off.
Politics, after all is about mass mobilisation, for a just and justifiable cause. In that sense, Anna has achieved a tremendous success, a spontaneous response and a well organised and disciplined campaign style.
What we are witnessing is nothing short of a revolution. Only on two earlier occasions in recent memory such grand scale people’s participation was recorded. The first was under Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan in mid-seventies. The second was during the Ayodhya movement, in the early nineties, propelled by L K Advani’s historic Rath yatra. What makes these occasions historically defining, significant and arresting is the fact that at some level, both the movement and its protagonist have touched a raw nerve of the national psyche, offered a new idiom in public discourse and signaled a fresh beginning. The mirage may not last long. But as long as it lasts it’s euphoric, transcending boundaries and barriers. Let the hangover of the past not make us wary.