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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 44, October 22, 2011

Is Anna Hazare an Agent of the Right-wing?

Tuesday 25 October 2011, by Ambrose Pinto

Anna Hazare has given a call to the people of Hisar to vote out the Congress from the constituency in the by-election. The only reason for his campaign against the Congress is that the party has not given him in writing that it would back his Jan Lokpal Bill to be passed in the next session of Parliament. The BJP and some other smaller parties have assured their support to Anna in writing. Is Anna justified in asking for letters of support from political parties when a note was provided to him by a responsible group of parliamentarians on behalf of Parliament “with the sense of the House” during the last Parliament session to adopt the Bill in the winter session?

All said and done, given the pressure on Parliament, there are no reasons to hold that Parliament will not pass the Bill. If the Parliament is supreme, then all decisions pertaining to the nature of all Bills should take place in Parliament. Giving in writing to an individual that the party would support the Bill after providing with a letter from the House is betrayal of democracy. That the BJP, the principal Opposition party, has done that will surprise none. Opportunism has always been the core philosophy of the party.

No party can go to Parliament with a hidden agenda or pre-determined mind for short-term gains. Only after serious discussions and debates a Bill can be passed. It is illogical for an average citizen in a democracy to support the final shape of a Bill outside Parliament. While the country needs a Bill against corruption, its clauses and provisions should be left to Parliament.

One is appalled at the undemocratic methods of Anna and his gang. How can he say that only his Bill and no other needs to be passed? Does he represent the entire civil society? That some parties have yielded to that blackmail is a shame since that action of giving in writing undermines the role of Parliament. Such demands can be made by individuals only when they are backed by invisible forces. It is important to unearth those forces to explore the interests behind such demands.

No Vote for the Congress

THAT Anna Hazare has instructed the people of Hisar not to vote for the Congress candidate is tragic. Social activists, when they become partisan by supporting or opposing political parties, are no more perceived as credible. For a successful campaign on any issue they should be able to keep an equal distance from all political parties and their affiliates. While a fight against corruption is political and all-inclusive without excluding any group or parties, it cannot be partisanly political. What we need to target is the system and not a party. Parties are all a part of the system. If a single party is targeted, than the movement is muddied.

Corruption is an issue which cuts across all political parties and impacts the common man. To fight against it is the responsibility of all citizens. Anna Hazare deserves credit for placing the issue in the public realm. But when he and his supporters call the people of a constituency not to vote for a particular party, they miss their focus on the issue and bring discredit to the movement. All said and done, citizens all know that corruption is in the system and all parties are responsible for it. It is irrational to single out a single party and ask the people not to vote for it.

Hisar and Social Discrimination

BESIDES, as far as Hisar is concerned, there are other issues surrounding the constituency. The constituency is the hub of the highest Dalit atrocities in the State and maybe even in the country. Jat and Dalit conflicts have caused several deaths in the last one decade. A village of the consti-tuency, Jhajjar, got into international news in 2002 for a crime against five Dalits who were lynched for skinning a dead cow. In Gohana, where over 50 houses belonging to Dalits were looted and torched in 2005. A 1000-strong mob wielding lathis, sambals and carrying petrol tins set fire to the houses. At Mirchpur in 2010 a Dalit father and a daughter were burnt alive and later another 50 Dalit homes were set on fire. The court has convicted some but pardoned many due to lack of evidence.

One would expect from an activist like Hazare to denounce all such caste atrocities in the constituency and ask the people not to vote for parties who are involved in caste and hate politics. Unfortunately, it is not an issue for Hazare. Along with his supporters, he seems to hold that killings and violence in the name of caste is less serious than state corruption.

Quality of the Candidates

SECONDLY, the quality of candidates that are contesting the elections in Hisar must be examined. There are 40 persons in the fray. Eight of them have criminal cases against them. Jai Prakash of the Congress is way down in terms of assets and pending criminal cases. The scrutiny of the affidavits submitted by the three candidates indicates that Jai Prakash does not have any criminal cases against him and his assets are worth only Rs 3.16 crores. Ajay Singh Chautala of the Lok Dal faces charges of corruption, cheating and criminal conspiracy in two cases. Kuldeep Bishnoi of the HJC has a case for attempt to murder pending in Chandigarh. With Rs 48.85 crores of wealth, he is the richest candidate in the fray followed by Ajay Singh Chautala with Rs 40.16 crores.

Does Anna want to promote corrupt individuals? Is he concerned about individuals amassing vast wealth? How is that wealth accumulated?

Selective Version of Corruption

IT seems that Anna Hazare and his team’s version of corruption is interestingly selective. It does not matter to Anna and his team about caste and communal corruption. He is not even keen to find out how those contesting elections have made money. Examining the past of contesting candidates and their moral character should be one of the ways of curbing corruption. During elections, the education of the people should have been on the quality of the contestants and their moral background. When there are criminal charges on contesting candidates and individuals have provided affidavits of large sums of personal wealth, the electorate has a right to know where the money has come from. Instead Anna is like Nero. Fiddling, when Rome was burning.

The caste and communal riots in the country have put an end to hundreds and thousands of innocent lives. Anna has failed to denounce the communal politics in Gujarat and the corrupt politics of Karnataka. The biggest corruption in India is the philosophy of caste, which has violated highest number of human rights for the last 3000 years. Why is Anna silent on the issue, especially in the Hisar constituency, given the fact that there have been recurring caste conflicts there? Is the group silent on it because of the invisible forces behind it? Isn’t it too dangerous for India if Anna Hazare adopts unconstitutional methods to bring his version of the Jan Lokpal Bill and remains selective on only one kind of corruption?

Dr Ambrose Pinto SJ is with the St Joseph’s College, Bangalore.

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