2013 is about to end. 2103 was a year of events and incidents and throughout this whole year new cases centred on corruption kept coming before one. Attempts were made to cover up corruption. Public enthusiasm snapped and the people who were at the root of things, they made an effort to use this dispiritedness too in their own favour.
I don’t want to go into a date wise analysis of the events of the year, because the analysis of this will be made by all the newspapers. I just want to go towards Anna Hazare’s rally held in the beginning of 2013 on 30 January at Patna. In August 2011 Anna Hazare went on a fast in New Delhi and after the fast he returned to his village, Ralegan Siddhi. After that fast Anna Hazare’s associates held many sittings and Anna felt the intention of his colleagues was something else. His associates were, from the very beginning, preparing to fight in elections, for which a survey was conducted in Himachal, and on which Anna questioned in a meeting, how was it done and with whose permission. It was from here that those people came forward who had made a strategy to use Anna in the elections. This strategy can of course, also be called a conspiracy, but I do not want to call it a conspiracy.
Anna felt that all the people around him wanted to use him not to bring about a change in the system, but to capture power. Anna believed clearly right from the outset, and he tried explaining this to his associates repeatedly, that a change in the system happens from the Lok Sabha, because the Lok Sabha makes policies, it makes economic policies, it decides on ties with foreign countries and it is the Lok Sabha that decides who controls water, forests and land. Not only that, without getting a majority in the Lok Sabha, villages cannot be empowered nor can villages be given all the powers.
When Anna felt that these people will not listen to him, he returned to Ralegan Siddhi and sat silently. In 2012, a meeting was held in which it was decided to form a political party against Anna’s wish. In this meeting those who formed the political party alleged that Anna had told them to form a political party and had then gone back on his word. Whereas the reality was that in the entire discussion Anna sat silently, people kept giving their logic and arguments and Anna kept looking at their faces and thinking ‘was it for these people that I staked my life. Was it to bring out their leadership that at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi I showed the majestic, brilliant form of public faith’. After the meeting everybody thought that Anna would come and announce the formation of the party, but Anna said what he had been saying for the last 45 years and had been fighting for – ‘I will neither be a part of any political party, and nor will those people who form a political party use my name, nor my photo’. Saying just that much Anna left. Now a round of accusations and counter-accusations began against Anna.
For the first time in his life, Anna had to face a political ambush at the hands of his own former colleagues. The year 2013 can be considered to be the year when Anna Hazare shook off the neglect and insults from his former colleagues and chalked out a new path before the country.
It was said where will Anna go? Anna will be back with us after three months, and amongst those who said this were three-four all powerful faces of the party, who so far had been seen sitting at Anna’s feet, but perhaps there was a pent-up desire in their minds to pull Anna’s feet. Anna then returned to Ralegan Siddhi and in his mind began thinking where he had made a mistake.
Those people who had not been able to ‘emerge’ during the chronology of events, but who desired to shine in the sky in the same manner as did those who cheated Anna, those people put pressure on Anna that he should form a Core Committee. Anna was especially hurt and therefore wary at the mention of the name ‘Core Committee’, but under great pressure he called a press conference that I am going to make an Advisory Committee, and after consulting the people of the country will make a Core Committee, but the people exerting the pressure leaked to the media that this is Anna’s Core Committee. Anna was again hurt by this. And he said to these people that without getting entrapped in the web of a Core Committee or any formal structure, you people should start making preparations for the rally in Patna.
Actually, Anna wanted to tour the entire country after the fast at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, but he was stopped from doing so by those who were closest to him at that time, who said to him that Anna, your health will be affected, so don’t go on a tour. Even today Anna has a regret in his mind for that lapse. Anna’s former colleagues did not pay any attention to Anna’s wish to hold a big rally in Patna’s Gandhi Maidan on 30 January (Mahatma Gandhi’s martyrdom day), 2013, and when he urged them insistently, they went to Patna and said to him that a rally could not be held. Anna became worried again. In the first week of December two people reached him. In discussions with them, Anna disclosed his desire to hold a rally, but that his erstwhile colleagues were saying that the rally could not be held. Responding to Anna’s desire, those two people said that Anna, you alone are the moral symbol of India. If you so desire a rally will be held, because the rally will be held in your name. Anybody else wanting it or not wanting it will not make a difference. Anna said that I want that rally.
The beginning of preparations for this rally were made on 16 December. A lot of obstacles cropped up in the preparations for the rally. But the end result was that the rally was held. It was a splendid rally. And in this rally almost one lakh seventy five thousand people, that is, close to two lakh people came. Everybody’s eyes were on this rally. Everybody analysed this rally in a different manner. People sitting in power and political parties sitting in the opposition wondered from where so many people had come. They became involved in unraveling this. And those old colleagues of Anna who had formed a party and given statements that Anna will come to them in two to three months, they wondered how Anna had moved. Without taking help from them, from where had strength come to Anna’s feet. From here began the round of provoking-enticing Anna, confusing him, leveling allegations against him.
After the 30 January rally, Anna decided in the first week of February that he would tour the country — this was made fun of. On 30 March, 2013 Anna began his country wide yatra (tour) from Jalianwala Bagh in Amritsar. During this yatra those who had left Anna created hindrances everywhere. They would take banners and sit in front and say that we are holding Anna’s meeting and everywhere their attempt was that not a single person should come for the rally. This was an attack on Anna’s back in two ways: creating confusion amongst people that we are holding Anna’s rally and on the other side trying their utmost that the rally should fail. Therefore, Anna was compelled to speak up at many places, and when the Punjab leg of the tour was ending Anna made it clear that he wanted that people from a particular party should not come for his rally anywhere. He said clearly that their paths have bifurcated. Despite this, though the Congress and the BJP did not dare to protest against or oppose Anna, those people who had sat with Anna and gained strength from him, dared to do so.
Anna’s tour ended. Anna’s health also deteriorated somewhat. Anna was operated upon. All this happened in 2013 and finally, when the second leg of Anna’s tour started, Anna announced that on the first day of the winter session of Parliament I will fast unto death at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi if the Jan Lokpal Bill is not passed. This declaration by Anna startled the people of the country and at the same time advantage was taken of it during the Delhi assembly elections. It was said that after winning these elections in Delhi, the Jan Lokpal Bill would be passed at the Ramlila Maidan. The Delhi assembly or Vidhan Sabha is in fact a large corporation. The Government of Delhi does not have any strength. The strength that the Government of Delhi has is that, if it works with honesty, people can get facilities, but if it works with dishonesty, then it has the strength to eat up a hundred-thousand crore rupees by way of corruption.
Apart from this the assembly has no other right or authority. It does not have police under it, does not have financial authority, nor the capacity to make laws. The condition of the Delhi Vidhan Sabha is such that if the Lieutenant Governor rejects a proposal made by it, then there is nothing the Vidhan Sabha can do about it. But such promises were made in Delhi as if promises were being made in elections for the country’s Parliament. People displayed faith because people felt that those people who had been with Anna will not betray them, will never cheat or deceive them. But the new emerging parts of the media — social networking sites and survey reports, both these were used in a solid way as weapons and the public of Delhi got confused knowingly. The public felt that those who are speaking are speaking correctly and it gave its votes. There was a miracle. A new political party won 28 seats. The Congress lost and here the difference in analysis was understood.
The way the entire country had stood up as one during the time of Anna’s fast, his colleagues of that time publicised that it had happened because of their organisational capacity that people stood up; whereas people had stood up because of faith in Anna Hazare and wanted to search for a solution to anger stemming from rising prices, corruption, hunger, disease in the strength created by Anna’s fasting. And this time in the Delhi assembly elections the anger of the people was against the Congress, against the BJP. The people’s support was not for any party. People made the party a weapon for their anger, but here also there was the same default. They thought that they had the people’s support.
After being in politics for a few years, minds often become faulty and those in politics begin ascribing their own desires as the people’s desires. But here there was another wonder also, that the language, the boastful pride which comes after years of staying in power was in evidence even before coming to power. It seemed as if there had been the rise of a new political party which had less faith in democratic language, in democratic values, and more faith in the use of offensive language. Posters in the name of Anna Hazare, banners in the name of Anna Hazare were used indiscriminately, and it was said, and full assurance was given that this was a party following Anna Hazare’s principles. Amongst the public, the message of faith in Anna and in the media the message of rejecting Anna was spread confidently. The result was that Anna Hazare silently watched his strategy being mutilated before his eyes.
Anna Hazare wrote a letter, and to make political use of it a press conference was held in Delhi. That press conference backfired. After this allegations were made in that press conference that Anna Hazare had been befooled and a hundred crore rupees spent to get that letter written. From here the mask began to come off that face which had claimed to have faith in Anna Hazare. From here allegations that Anna Hazare was old, that Anna Hazare was unstable, that Anna Hazare was under pressure, that Anna Hazare had no knowledge began being leveled against him by his former associates and Anna silently watched all this.
Before the voting for the Delhi Vidhan Sabha took place, Anna wrote another letter. In the same way that Anna did not leak the first letter to the media, in the same manner Anna did not leak the second letter either to the media. But because the people in a political party had suffered by leaking the first letter to the media, they did not leak to the media that Anna had written a second letter. They simply swallowed this letter, because they knew that if they leaked this letter, perhaps there could be great damage to them in the voting which was to be held just a day later. From this, a Gandhian picture of Anna and a political picture of those to whom he had written this letter comes to the fore.
Anna went on a fast again and to end Anna’s fast and his influence and prestige again, his old associates again hatched a conspiracy. There was a concerted attack on Anna, and a campaign was started to put Anna in the midst of a new challenge, and this new challenge was that the Jan Lokpal Bill draft which had been given to the Government two years ago, that same Jan Lokpal should be passed. An attempt was made to put so much pressure on Anna that he should accept the Bill without a comma or a full stop being changed, instead of having faith that what Anna will do will be correct. To build up pressure, a new strategy began to be framed to make Anna’s face before the country that of a BJP or Congress supporter. End Anna’s credibility. That conspiracy which the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress could not make, the ‘supari’ for executing that conspiracy was taken over by the new political party, because the leaders of this political party were very familiar with Anna’s strengths and frailties. With disappointed eyes, Anna watched the gimmicks and moves of his old associates and kept fathoming their intentions. It emerged once from Anna’s mouth that was there some strength in the statement that during the 2011 fast there was an attempt to trap me in some web?
For the first time in his life, Anna had to face a political ambush at the hands of his own former colleagues. The year 2013 can be considered to be the year when Anna Hazare shook off the neglect and insults from his former colleagues and chalked out a new path before the country. After giving the message of a system change to a crowd of nearly two lakh people in January, Anna toured a very large part of the country. In six States he held more than seven hundred meetings, travelled more than 28 thousand kilometers. After that he fasted for the Jan Lokpal Bill and warned the country about new elections to Parliament. Anna talked for the first time about people’s candidates. He wrote a letter to political parties and said that political parties must be genuine in keeping faith with the people. Anna gave his suggestions on how such Members of Parliament can come in the country who can raise their voices in Parliament on issues linked to people, on the Right to Reject, on the Right to Recall, on total autonomy to Gram Sabhas, on village-based economics, on market based economics. In this way 2013 was a year full of faith in Anna.
I am writing here only of Anna Hazare, because in 120 crore people there is only Anna Hazare who is not only the centre of faith for people, but whom the people of the country, whether they are in jobs, in agriculture, unemployed, deprived –they all have complete trust and confidence in Anna. Therefore the year 2013 can be considered to be a year of Anna standing up, of withstanding the tremors of betrayal, of being insulted and humiliated by his own former colleagues and emerging and rising above it.