Anna’s call needs to be answered

By Santosh Bhartiya

Anna Hazare has announced to launch a fresh agitating in Delhi from March 23 on the same old issues of the Lokpal and farmer’s plight. Present government has kept a constant mum on the Lokpal, the reason best known to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has not changed his stance on the Lokpal from that he took while he was Gujarat Chief Minister. The second issue is to help farmers get a fair price of their produce.

Everyone has his/her own reason to oppose Anna Hazare. For some he does not stick to the issues he takes up and always change his team – different people take charge of his team in at different time. For other, he and his supporters abhor disagreement and accuse anybody who disagrees with them. For still others, Anna lacks clarity of vision; he has accepted hefty grants from the government for projects running in his village Ralegan Siddhi; and ministers from Maharashtra government often come to see him.

Even if the allegations against Anna Hazare are unfounded, untrue or wild, he may be dismissed by fact that there is hardly any person in our country’s public life who is virtuous enough to question the government or the opposition. We are living in the most painful era of the history, wherein dearth of upright people is palpable everywhere. It was not always like that. Once there was no paucity of standout personalities in politics and social sphere, but unfortunately the gap created by their departure has ceased to be filled. Perhaps, it is due to the convention prevalent in our country that leaders in political and social field do not nurture second-line leadership, and this is the reason for this chasm that is glaringly apparent in the country.

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The most important virtue in politics nowadays is to attain power. But in this virtuous enterprise the ideology has received maximum drubbing and become a tool of flattery. Leaders of both government and opposition do not like value-based politics. For them value-based politics is crazy thing. This is exactly what is happening in the social sector. Ubiquitous NGOs have replaced voluntary organizations. People who were working in voluntary organization were working with missionary zeal. Today the general perception about most of the NGOs is that their paramount interest is to serve themselves. In this darker world, Anna Hazare is like a bright spot, he worked through an organization that can fall under the category of both NGO and voluntary organization. Under his leadership his village Ralegan Siddhi emerged as a unique example for the rest of the country. Ralegan Siddhi falls under the arid region of Maharashtra. Scanty rain had propelled the region into perennial problem of water shortage, which resulted into unemployment and its consequent offshoot, drug addiction. Today due largely to the efforts of Anna Hazare, Ralegan Siddhi has recovered from most of its problems. One many occasions Anna Hazare has shown how moral value important in public life!

Anna Hazare had launched an agitation and sat on an indefinite fast at the Ramlila grounds during the Congress rule. His agitation galvanized youth and swung the whole country into action. However, doubts were cast over the agitation of the hidden hands of the RSS, which wanted to use Anna Hazare in its effort to dethrone the Congress. It is also said that the momentum created by Anna movement shifted the wind towards the BJP. The direct offshoot of the movement is the Aam Aadmi Party led by Arvind Kejriwal who later became the Chief Minister of Delhi.  If on the one hand Kejriwal says that whatever he did, he did in consultation with Anna Hazare, on the other hand Anna Hazare squarely denied such consultation and disassociated himself with Kejriwal. I do not pass any judgment either on what Arvind Kejriwal said, or on what Anna Hazare did. I believe that there was a communication gap between them that resulted in such an acrimonious end of their association.

After that, Anna Hazare along with General V.K. Singh embarked on a yatra (journey) of North Indian states. Here too the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi successfully turned the atmosphere created by that yatra into its favour. Anna Hazare raised a very serious question – the economy we have adopted is anti-poor, market-oriented economy, which intended to enslave the country. He got Mamta Banerjee’s support on this question which did go down well with the forces control the market. They thought that if Anna Hazare and Mamta Banerjee fight election together and get 100 seats, then the next government would oppose open economy, and return to the Nehruvian economy that was espoused by Indira Gandhi and maintained by V.P. Singh, Chandrasekhar. They laid their trap to break this alliance. They sent their marksmen to entrap Ann Hazare, he did not budge. Anna Hazare is basically honest and ascetic person.

When these insatiable market forces failed to move Anna from his position, they contacted a Congress minister, whose ministry supervised funding to NGOs. The minister in question had called the linchpins of two NGOs, one was from Rajasthan and the other was from Madhya Pradesh. They were entrusted with the task breaking Anna-Mamta alliance. They successfully convince Anna that his extending support to any one political party would affect his spotless image, and that a conspiracy was being hatched to taint his spotless image. Unsuspecting Anna fell under their trap. That was exactly what those market forces were longing to do. And thus Anna Hazare lost that golden opportunity of making history, which could have curbed the neo-liberal, market-oriented economy in this country. The poor and farmers could have become focus of the economy again.

Anyway, octogenarian Anna Hazare is the only person in the country, who has courage and moral power to face the people. Anna can do this. Therefore, his agitation in Delhi from March 23 should be welcomed by all and sundry. Anna has wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, but not to speak of replying the issues raised therein, the Prime Minister’s Office did deem it fit to acknowledge it.

It is not clear whether Anna Hazare will sit on a fast in Delhi or embark on a nationwide yatra, or if he launches a satyagraha, then what will be the nature of that satyagraha? The most tragic thing is that his proposed satyagraha has neither been taken up by the media or attracted a lot attention from common people. This loss of credibility may be caused by the fact that earlier Anna Hazare movement failed to reach at any logical conclusion. There is an innate problem in the people of the country. They want someone else to fight for their cause. The country definitely threw its weight behind Anna Hazare, but it did not agitate with Anna Hazare. There is no doubt the fact that the Sangh was behind him, which was staging sit-ins across the country.

Real nature of Anna Hazare’s movement will probably become clear by the end of February, but in whatever form he launches his satyagraha that should not just be welcomed but also give full-throttled support. People should participate in his agitation only because there is at least one person in our country who can stand up and talk to the government for people’s problems. At a time when political parties are behaving like cowards, if a selfless person stands up for the Lokpal or for the problems of the farmers, his voice should not be allowed to be suppressed. Those who welcome Anna Hazare in Delhi will be part of the noble cause.

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