Masterstroke or A Mistake

The biggest mistake of Anna Hazare and his team has been that after the end of fasting in Ramlila Ground last year, they did not go anywhere in the country. If Anna Hazare would have done this, people throughout the nation would have stood with him.

The moment Anna Hazare announced the end of his fast, it seemed that an unquenchable desire of many people was not fulfilled. Because of this an earthquake seemed to have taken place in a large section of the media and political parties. It began to be said in the media, ‘Death of a Movement _ a movement of 16 months that had been converted into politics.’ ‘We wanted a revolution, not politics’, and similar utterances were brought strongly in front of the nation. What was that unquenchable desire that remained unfulfilled ? If carefully perused, it will be understood that this unfulfilled desire was the death, while fasting, of Anna Hazare or any member of his team, especially Arvind Kejriwal. This desire of mediapersons was just like their desire of staging events and then reporting them. And the political parties desire had been that it would make their path easy if both Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal were no longer there or no longer existed. These two desires remaining unfulfilled was the main reason for the unrest amongst a section of the media and the political parties. The questions that were asked were also strange, like, how will the candidates be selected, how will the elections be fought without money, how will casteism be combated and how will people be convinced. Also what will be their foreign policy, what will be their economic policy, do they know anything other than the Lokpal ? These questions, raised by the media within 24 hours, show how hollow the media of our country has become. No correspondent or news analyst talked to Anna Hazare or his associates even once about these questions, and instead drew negative conclusions and began putting them in front of the people. This was happening on those channels too which had conducted a survey over Anna Hazare joining politics and were continuously highlighting that in their survey more than 96 per cent people are in favour of Anna Hazare joining politics. Perhaps, because of this ‘intelligence’ of the media, people have now started regarding news channels more as a means of entertainment and less as a medium for making up their minds. They slot the debates on television in the same category as that of entertainment programmes.

There is no doubt that Anna Hazare and his team have committed mistakes. But apart from mistakes, the hope that Anna Hazare has kindled in the masses in the past 1 year is one of the most novel, historical events that have taken place during the last 20 years. The elite class and the sensible people in the political parties as well as those who are running the government should understand that Anna Hazare has imbued the country with a dangerous hope, so dangerous that if not realised will result in grim disappointment that will draw people towards crime, Naxalism and anarchy. Anna Hazare’s movement got support because out of the 120 crores people of the country, 90 crores did not get the benefit of development, opportunities started shrinking and the vacuum created due to this could not be filled. Therefore, people rose throughout the country and such a novel groundswell of public support has been seen that it has infused new hopes. A small procession comes out and police and paramilitary forces have to be brought in to control it, but Anna’s year-long movement did not require the police anywhere at all. Such signs are not being understood either by the political parties or the corporate sector and neither by the government nor the media. Perhaps, a common reason for this might be that these four classes have become disconnected from the people and have become completely limited to the national capital and that of the states.

There is no doubt that Anna Hazare and his team have committed mistakes. But apart from mistakes, the hope that Anna Hazare has kindled in the masses in the past 1 year is one of the most novel, historical events that have taken place during the last 20 years.

The biggest mistake of Anna Hazare and his team has been that after the end of fasting in Ramlila Ground last year, they did not go anywhere in the country. The reason for this was the illness of Anna Hazare, yes, but even on a stretcher, if he had held meetings at just four places in the country and told the people that the government has given this time frame to fulfill its promise, and if it fulfilled the promise, it would be welcomed; otherwise there would be a struggle. If Anna Hazare would have done this, people throughout the nation would have stood with him. Now Anna Hazare and his associates are faced with a big challenge. And that challenge is to present in front of the people a model which has the participation of the common people. Our political parties, the government and people from the corporate sector are like the person who was blinded in ‘sawan’ – the time of the monsoons and greenery – and thereafter always thinks that there is greenery, greenery everywhere. They do not know that the ground beneath their feet can slide any moment. Therefore instead of criticising Anna Hazare’s views and his working style, they should change their own working style, and once again give workers within the party pride of place ; and start raising their voice for the problems of the people. Approximately 272 districts of the country have come under the influence

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of Naxalism, and the people of these districts are losing their faith in the current political process. The number of such districts is not declining, it is on the increase and this is dangerous.
Under the influence of the corporate sector and the government, the media has stopped going out of the capital. The reports of television channels and newspapers published from the national capital and state capitals, and those of the newspapers published from the 272 Naxal-affected districts have a different tone. When public mistrust against political parties and government increases, its direct meaning is an increase in public mistrust against democracy. Not understanding this responsibility can be understood as support by the political parties to destroy democracy.
This is why, when the recently retired Army Chief, Gen. V.K. Singh, addressed the nation and said that governments are going against the directives laid down by our Constitution, not just the people listening to him in Delhi cheered and clapped but also those who were watching and listening to him throughout the country clapped. He said in his address that conditions similar to 1975, when Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan gave the call of ‘singhasan khaali karo, ki janata aati hai …’, had been created in the country. He said that this call was not a happy one, but it was a call that was made due the duress, pain and suffering of the people.

General V. K. Singh said in his address that conditions similar to 1975, when Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan gave the call of ‘singhasan khaali karo, ki janata aati hai …’, had been created in the country. He said that this call was not a happy one, but it was a call that was made due the duress, pain and suffering of the people.

The General also said that the system that did not follow the Constitution has to be changed and a new system that would follow the precepts of the Constitution has to be instituted. The General was applauded and there was clapping for everything that he said, especially when he said that he is from the Army, the army men come from among the people and when the Army is able to complete a given task 100 per cent, why is the bureaucracy and our government not able to successfully complete a welfare measure devised for the people? He asked whether after 1991, could anyone tell of even one task which the government was able to complete even 60 or 70 per cent. The whole country listened to the General’s address and felt that it has finally got an honest face that can be relied upon and trusted. The people feel that the General will tour the entire country and on the one hand inspire the youth, dispossessed and weak to join the political process while on the other he will build up pressure on the political parties to change their behaviour and become people oriented. This situation is worthy of being welcomed but it is also dangerous. If the political parties, the corporate sector and the government choose to gird their loins to destroy this situation, then for the first time after independence, the pre-independence movement wherein Gandhiji led the people against the British may be seen again. It must be anticipated that just as Jayaprakash Narayan had to face difficulties and just as V.P. Singh had to face the ire of the government, similar conditions will be created for Anna Hazare and General V.K .Singh too.
Baba Ramdev’s way is somewhat different. He toured the country in a planned manner, held meetings and made the people aware of black money as well as the failures of the government. Last year the ‘dharna’ and demonstration carried out by him at the Ramlila Ground was uprooted by the government in 3 days through police action. Baba Ramdev fell victim to the same syndrome to which Anna Hazare had fallen a victim. He threw all his weight to showcase his strength in front of the media in Delhi. This time too he made the same strategy; his main organiser, Acharya Balkrishna, is in jail. The government assumed that if Acharya Balkrishna would not be there, it would not be possible for Baba Ramdev’s movement to get organised, and sent Acharya Balkrishna to jail with the help of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The biggest weakness of Baba Ramdev’s movement is that he too could not take his movement amidst the people of the country. But if the three movements started by Baba Ramdev, Anna Hazare and General V.K. Singh can become an opportunity for the political parties of this country, they can also become a threat. Now it is up to the political parties to decide whether they will use or face this opportunity. The people are watching this situation eagerly and are preparing themselves to play their role.

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