How did the recent very marked change of attitude occur in Anna Hazare? Betrayals, cheating, a parting of ways, the unlimited ambitions and limited viewpoints of people – call them what you will combined with his unwavering vision for a new, clean, corruption free, vibrant India where all people were equally empowered played cardinal roles…Read the inside story of this change and what really happened between Anna’s historic fast at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi and his equally path breaking countrywide Jantantra Yatra which is now underway…
Anna Hazare has now started to talk of political options in the country. Anna Hazare has now decided that he will not only create mass awareness against political parties, but will also support such candidates for the Lok Sabha who have no relationship with political parties. Technically, these candidates will be independent, but Anna says that out of these whichever candidates the people choose, he will consider them the candidates who will fight for democracy. But for this, he has some more conditions too, about which we will talk later. First, let us see how the change of attitude occurred in Anna.
Actually, when in 2011 Anna Hazare had fasted against corruption at the Ramlila Ground in New Delhi, at that time he did not have the trust and confidence that the people of the country would stand with him against corruption to the tremendous extent that they did. If he had possessed the trust and confidence, he would have appealed to the people of the country to stand with him. Anna staked his life and demanded that a Jan Lokpal law be made by the Government. Before this, Anna had held talks with the Government many times. He had held talks with the Ministers. These Ministers had given him assurances, but later Anna was cheated from everywhere and the Government, the Ministers in the Government, and the political parties made a sudden about-turn, and they left Anna alone, on his own, in the matter, the issue of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Tired and feeling defeated, Anna decided to sit on a fast unto death. He was going to sit on this fast at the Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Park in New Delhi, but before he could do so the police arrested him from his house. The police took him to a judge, where he was sentenced to imprisonment for seven days. He had hardly spent two hours in jail when jail officials came to him and said that Anna, you can now leave, as your punishment has been withdrawn (‘maaf kar di hai’). Anna said ‘Arrey! How has the punishment been withdrawn? The punishment has just been read out to me and not even three hours have passed since I came to jail.’ The officials said ‘No, your punishment has been withdrawn.’ Anna said ‘No, I will not leave just now, I will go out of jail only after completing my punishment.’ He said that he did not think that the ‘andolan’ (movement) was a bania’s shop, where prices could be lowered and raised as and when according to the customer. The jail officials left and after some time returned, saying that the IG had called him. When Anna reached to meet the IG, the IG said that you cannot go back to jail, because now you have come out of the jail. Anna said that if you too will behave in the same way that your subordinates did some time ago, then I will not leave your office and for three days, Anna sat in the office of IG.
And from here started the anger in the people of the country. Exactly the same anger that had ignited in the minds of people after seeing a photograph of lathis striking Lok Nayak’s Jaiprakash Narayan’s head on the roads of Patna. The whole country stood with the Lok Nayak. There was a recurrence of the same moments and once again the country felt that the Government had done an injustice to the 73 year old social worker Anna Hazare, at which outraged people in very large numbers sat before Tihar jail. As the hours passed, so did the crowds of people in front of Tihar jail increase in numbers. Demonstrations began to be held all over the country and the people of the country felt that a grave injustice was being done to a person who was a Gandhian and who spoke in the public interest. When Anna came out of jail after three days, a procession that was about 4 kilometres long accompanied him towards the Ramlila ground.
At first, the Government had not wanted to ‘give’ the Ramlila Maidan to Anna Hazare for fasting, but within those three days the Ramlila Maidan was made suitable for holding the fast and Anna reached the Ramlila Maidan directly and continued his fast. Television had no other choice or recourse but to show the public anger and outrage, nor did the print media have any other alternative except to go in favour. Television took the incident to every home and a wave of anger spread through the entire country. The speeches were being made at Ramlila Maidan, but it was not as if the anger was concentrated or centralised in Delhi. Meetings were being held in different parts of the country. Those women who were not able to go the meetings were taking out ‘prabhat pheris’ (fervent processions) in the streets and ‘mohallas’ of their different localities. Children sporting caps, began raising slogans of ‘I too am Anna, you too are Anna. The whole country is Anna’. The result was that the fermentation of anger and wrath engulfed the entire country.
Perhaps less than Anna’s anger, but afraid of the outrage of the people of the country, Parliament held a sitting and passed a Resolution, even though in this sitting too, as in previous sittings, several MPs made sarcastic remarks about Anna. The most sarcastic remarks were made by Laloo Prasad Yadav. Sharad Yadav too did not use decorous language in the Lok Sabha, but a unanimous opinion was formed and it was decided to ‘pass’ the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Lok Sabha, which was called the ‘sense of the House’ and was described as a ‘collective opinion’ of the Lok Sabha.
The next day, the late Vilasrao Deshmukh, accompanied by some other fellow MPs, took the Resolution and a letter from the Prime Minister to Anna Hazare, and entrusted a copy of the Lok Sabha’s ‘sense of the House’ and a letter from the Prime Minister to Anna Hazare. On Vilasrao Deshmukh’s behest, Anna Hazare accepted breaking his fast. Before this, many well known people in the country had made
efforts to get Anna to end his fast, prominent among whom were Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Bhaiyyuji Maharaj. Swami Chidanand Saraswati from Rishikesh had also reached with Gangajal to break Anna’s fast, yet Anna politely ignored everyone’s appeals. But seeing the language of Parliament’s ‘sense of the House’, Anna ended his fast.
After his fast, Anna was admitted for some days at Gurgaon’s Medanta Hospital, because even during the period of the fast, Medanta’s Dr. Naresh Trehan had been keeping tabs on his health. After some days in the hospital, Anna went to his native place — Ralegan Siddhi. After this, on the one hand the Government began ignoring Anna, and on the other side, Anna’s associates took the public wave which had arisen in support of Anna as blind support from the people. Then, they started talking amongst themselves about various issues, but no one tried to understand what was the roadmap for social change in Anna Hazare’s mind. Much earlier, before Anna Hazare sat for his fast, he had made a concerted effort to change his village. Anna’s village is a model village in the country in the real sense. ‘Paan’-‘beedis’-cigarettes are not sold in this village. In a village where 16 years ago there were 40 liquor brewing stills, no one today consumes alcohol, and in a village where managing even food was difficult for the people, today 500 litres of milk is being exported daily. In a village suffering from famine Anna created a storage of food. He prepared the people of the village and in a village which fell in the famine hit zone if the rains, the monsoon did not arrive, there today, Anna Hazare has showed how to make arrangements for water for three crops. The vegetables grown in Anna’s village have reached foreign countries too.
Actually, what Anna achieved after 16-18 years of hard work, he wanted to expand that and apply it to the entire country and this dream was always in his mind — that the people of the country should make the villages of India self-sufficient and self-reliant. Anna had complete belief and confidence in this principle of Gandhiji.
But Anna’s associates Arvind Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Kiran Bedi along with all the members of the Core Committee, not one of them tried to find out from Anna what kind of warp and weft he had in mind for bringing about change in society. But perhaps Anna had understood that in the minds of his colleagues there was only the (Jan Lokpal) law, and his associates were believing that the passing of that law would be the final achievement. Anna also tried many times to make his colleagues understand his real aim, his original purpose, but neither did Anna’s colleagues hear what he had to say nor did they understand his signals. After that, Anna spent most of his time in Ralegan Siddhi.
Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal decided to fast at Jantar Mantar in Delhi along with his colleagues Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai. Anna was not in agreement with this decision, but when they started the fast at Jantar-Mantar, Anna came to Delhi from Ralegan Siddhi and began to fast in their support. According to our information, Arvind Kejriwal and his colleagues never talked with Anna about fighting elections or forming a political party. Even if they did talk about it, the language must have been so worded that Anna did not understand the language. After about 10 days, General V.K. Singh got them to formally end their fast, but the day the fast ended, Anna Hazare, persisting with his words said that the people should be given some option. But at that meeting to end the fast itself, Arvind Kejriwal made the announcement of forming a political party and fighting elections. It was from here that a rift was evident between Anna and his old team.
Arvind Kejriwal arranged a big meeting with Anna in which there were mostly those who worked with Anna and those who supported him. Amongst them, there were editors of several TV channels. The meeting continued throughout the day at the Constitution Club and everyone put forward different views, opinions and suggestions. Arvind Kejriwal said that Anna has told him that ‘I will not oppose you, you have my good wishes’. But whatever Anna may have said there, the truth can only be known when that recording comes before one. However, Anna had made it clear right there that he has nothing to do with the new party to be formed and those people cannot use his picture either. At seven thirty that same evening there was a meeting between Anna Hazare, Baba Ram Dev and General V.K. Singh. At that meeting Anna said clearly that something should be done for the people and Baba Ramdev and General V.K. Singh supported him. The next day Anna went back to Ralegan Siddhi. The message went out clearly in the country that Anna Hazare had now separated from his colleagues Arvind Kejriwal Prashant Bhushan and Manish Sisodia. Kiran Bedi was with Arvind Kejriwal earlier, but on this occasion she remained with Anna Hazare.
Along with Kiran Bedi, Sunita Godara and Rakesh Rafiq, many people, who except for Kiran Bedi, had never been seen in the public light, suddenly came to the forefront. Those people built up pressure on Anna Hazare that Anna should form a new Core Committee. Anna even held a meeting in Delhi, but by then almost two years had passed. Even though he was not in full agreement with their arguments Anna took the decision to form a Core Committee and for this called a Press Conference, but one does not know why, before the Press Conference itself, Anna Hazare felt that if he formed a Core Committee, this Core Comittee too would behave with him in the same way as the Core Committee which included Arvind Kejriwal had behaved. Therefore, he selected his words very carefully at the Press Conference. He announced a ‘will-do-for-the-time-being’ Advisory Committee. Anna did not use the words ‘Core Committee’. Anna Ralegan left once again for Ralegan Sidhhi but before leaving, he met General V.K. Singh at night. Anna said to the General that he wanted General V.K. Singh to be on his Advisory Committee. General V.K. Singh told Anna Hazare said that ‘I will do all the work for you, but right now don’t keep me on this Advisory Committee even as a specially invited member’. He said that I will continue to work for you, but till you have assessed the qualities and faults of this Committee, please don’t put pressure on me to join it.
Perhaps it was from here that doubts arose in the mind of Anna about every member of the Advisory Committee. Anna observed that after Arvind Kejriwal had moved away, whoever went to meet him would start complaining about each other. People of the Advisory Committee complained about each other. In the meetings too, people would squabble with each other, all this would happen before Anna Hazare’s eyes. Anna’s faith in his colleagues began to diminish, and he did not call a second meeting of this Advisory Committee. Anna wanted to tour the country, but Arvind Kejriwal and his colleagues never made any effective plans for him to tour the country and neither did they attempt to try and understand his thoughts and views. Anna was trying in his mind to assess everybody’s thinking. Whoever would go to meet Anna, he would hear what he or she had to say and would keep his own thinking in the context of social change before him or her. But when he would observe that those who went to meet him would talk of all other things, but would not talk of social change or of changing the prevailing system, then doubts and a fear would arise in his mind. That is why Anna reduced his visits to Delhi very considerably. Instead of coming to Delhi, he made a decision to change his very path. Read about this important change and the new path in the next issue.