Their demand is to form a joint committee by the government involving
both the politicians and civil society members to discuss and later
enact the Jan Lokpal Bill designed by former justice of the Supreme
Court Of India, former Solicitor General of India and the present Lokayukta
(ombudsman) for Karnataka State Santosh Hegde and ace lawyer Prashant
Bhushan. The government, expectedly, doesn’t want to form any such
committee to enact these laws. In the mean time, thousands of people
across the country have pledged their support for Hazare’s cause and
have been observing peaceful agitations, relay-fasting at Jantar Mantar
and at their places too.
There are a few points to note. Hazare’s movement isn’t against this
government’s involvement in many corruptions and scams. This movement
has a very narrow focus on the enactment of the much delayed Lokpal
Bill. In fact, Hazare and his supporters want the Lokpal Bill of 1968,
which has been tabled eight times in the parliament but never approved,
to be replaced by the Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by Mr Hegde and Prashant
Bhushan. Another important point in this whole issue is the way Anna has
adopted. Fasting till death to pressurize an elected government to
succumb to one’s demands is no less than black-mailing. Many a times
such measures lead to nothing concrete as recently seen in the Telengana
issue. A popular blogger ‘Offstumped’ too has described the
current agitation as “misguided”.
‘Offtumped’ writes, there is no other blunt way to say this – Anna
Hazare’s fast is misguided. A fast against corruption is as pointless as
a fast against cancer. It has immense mass appeal as it builds on the
twin emotions of anger and sympathy. But it is utterly inconsequential
when put to the outcomes test.
Neither the Lokpal Bill nor the Jan Lokpal Bill will solve systemic
issues that breed corruption. The premise that an Independent Ombudsman
descending from heaven will deliver against corruption is fantasy.
… issue with this fast is the legitimacy it grants to interventions
based on civil disobedience that attempts to short circuit the difficult
task of fighting and winning elections, building public and political
consensus for reforms and on following due process.
While I agree that the fast is somewhat misguided and narrow focussed
the fast and the agitation are no less important. The main reason being
the platform it gives to channelise the anger among the people against
the corruption. The overwhelming support that common people of India
have given to Anna’s fast shows the anger among people. There was no
mass protest against the government’s involvement in scams even if
almost every one in this country was visibly angry. While internet
forums (most popular place in current times to have discussions on any
topic) were flooded with people posting furious comments against the
corruption, there was no visible reaction in the real world.
Opposition’s actions were seen as political opportunism. The choler of
people was settling down due to lack of any real form of crusade against
the corruption. Lack of a mass leader was the reason behind lack of any
movement against corruption.
While Hazare and his supporters are initially focused on the Lokpal
Bill, when more people join in and it becomes a true mass movement,
people will decide the next course of action. As exemplified by the
Egypt’s recent revolution, people can collectively take the leadership
after initial sparks. What has helped this movement is the way Hazare
took the Prime Minister and senior politician Sharad Pawar head on.
Hazare has accused PM of misleading people and also openly said that
corrupt politicians like Pawar leading government’s committee against
corruption shows the true face of government’s willingness to act
against corruption. For people already disgusted with the government’s
lip service against corruption, Hazare’s such direct accusations will
sound like roar for a change making more aam admi joining the
cause of fighting corruption.
The effectiveness of this movement lies in how this gets expanded in the
future. Hazare’s fast must act as the initial spark (that is the
importance of this ‘misguided’ fast) and then the people of India must
lead the movement (a revolution by that time). If this movement gets
expanded to a mass revolution against corruption, then, in all
probability, this will be the Indian Jasmine revolution.
(Writer is a blogger and Cricket Editor at