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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 43, October 15, 2011

Disturbing Trends in Anna Camp Growing

Wednesday 19 October 2011, by Diptendra Raychaudhuri

When a hitherto-little-known person or group of persons suddenly comes to dominate the centre-stage in any field, that person or group enjoys a big advantage. People do not know him/it and so they remain unaware of his/its negative side. And if the person or group can exploit an already-rotten and hopeless reality, he or it may scale unexpected heights. All of us know the best example of this is Hitler.

Hitler, anyhow, was an exception. The only person who could come close to him in being demonic was Stalin. But history is replete with instances of many little Hitlers and little Stalins who apparently propagated a noble cause, but actually degenerated into making more harm than good to their respective nations. Our country is particularly vulnerable to the rise of such figures as the country is susceptible to caste and communal flare-ups.

Keeping in mind this perspective, the way Team Anna has started its anti-Congress campaign has strengthened the notion that they have come up with some insidious designs.

Of course, Anna’s cause is noble. The cause also carries a sense of urgency. But, as the days pass, another question is raising its ugly head more and more prominently: is fighting corruption the ultimate goal for Anna, or is it just a means to achieve some other goal? In other words, in simpler words, the question is whether Team Anna is fighting corruption to cleanse the polity as a whole, or has a hidden agenda of replacing the Congress with the BJP.

Ominous Portents for Secular Democracy

THE so-called Team Anna is continuously showing trends that are bound to make secular people uncomfortable.

On October 10, Arvind Kejriwal stated before TV cameramen that they were not going anywhere to campaign ‘for the BJP’. Well, the very fact that he had to say it shows how deep the message has gone that Team Anna is hand-in-glove with the BJP. And not only with the BJP, but also with its mentor, the RSS. Kejriwal’s statement cannot dispel the suspicion because his leader Anna has made continuous flip-flops since the time he, for the first time in his life, came to national prominence.

Team Anna’s campaign against the Congress has started in Hisar constituency of Haryana. Very significantly, after the campaign started, Kejriwal appeared on Karan Thapar’s programme on CNN-IBN and described Anna as a person ‘politically very sharp’. So, it can be surmised that such a political person and his aides know what it does tantamount to if a slogan of ‘defeat the Congress’ is raised. Sushma Swaraj quite frankly welcomed it. But suddenly Kejriwal feigned innocence and stated that they were not going to campaign for the BJP.

But Who Benefits if Congress is Defeated?

IN 200 plus Lok Sabha constituencies of this country, the Congress and BJP will be locked in direct contest if today a Lok Sabha election takes place. It was so in May 2009, and will be the same in May 2014. If the Congress is defeated in most of these constituencies, the BJP and its allies will sweep the next Lok Sabha poll. And this time, the BJP will have no Atal Behari Vajpayee at the helm. There will be no one to remind a Narendra Modi ‘rajdharma’, no one to write letters to be responsive to the plight of the victims of a communal progrom. Maybe, Narendra Modi himself will become the Prime Minister. People like Anna Hazare or Arvind Kejriwal may feel delighted at such a prospect, but all well-meaning people are bound to shudder at it.

Corruption is a very big danger in the life of a nation. But it does not kill thousands of people at one go. Communalism is the cancer that kills a nation.

Someone may argue that the BJP has shed its communal agenda. But, the communal mindset is such that it may have its reincarnation at any moment. Furthermore, the Gujarat and Chhattis-garh governments have proved that they have scant regard for democratic principles or human rights. So far we have seen that this does not matter to Anna Hazare. But it matters to tens of millions of people from various vulnerable sections.

And now with the embryo of a grand anti-Congress alliance taking shape, the designs of Team Anna look really insidious. The symptoms were there from the very beginning. Anna Hazare’s proximity with the Hindutva leaders was staring at everyone’s face. During his first fast in Delhi, Kisan Baburao Hazare did not allow any politician at the place of dharna, except for Uma Bharati. Team Anna’s comfort with Swami Ramdev was another glaring example of this.

And then there is Kejriwal’s overenthusiasm. While denying any link with the BJP he said, again on October 10, that if the ruling party at the Centre does not accede to their demand then ‘Congress ka pura astitwa saaf kara diya jayga’ (the very existence of the Congress will be wiped out). Great spirit, of course. Only the simple question remains: whom is he trying to help by wiping out the Congress?

Here a few important points have to be noted. First, the last televised fast of Anna was his sixteenth fast. (Frankly speaking, like 99.99 per cent non-Marathi Indians I know very little about Anna Hazare, and this statistics I have got from Kejriwal when he revealed it on Karan Thapar’s show.) So Anna underwent fourteen fasts before he raised the Jan Lokpal issue. And he is around us for decades. The Lokpal issue is also hanging fire for decades. But, Anna did not contemplate any movement for a Lokpal during 1998 to 2004. Not even during the first UPA regime when the RSS-camp was still hopeful of bringing the BJP to power in 2009. But, when all hopes were shattered for the RSS-BJP combine, and the Congress under Manmohan Singh (holding an unenviable record of remaining the Prime Minister for years in a democracy without ever facing a popular election) started faltering on every single issue, Team Anna became active.

Second, to prove their mettle they chose Hisar. The seat did not belong to the Congress. It belonged to Bhajan Lal. So why this constituency? What will they prove by defeating the Congress there? Whom do they want to hoodwink?

The third intriguing point is: why have they started this ‘defeat the Congress’ campaign before the winter session of Parliament when the Lokpal Bill is supposed to be placed in both the Houses? The argument that all other parties, except the Congress, agreed to implement Team Anna’s Jan Lokpal draft is incredibly naïve, because those who are not in power can promise even to gift the moon. Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal were not born yesterday, and so it can be assumed that they are aware of the loads of false promises a political party makes before an election. Still, they have decided to feign innocence.

Fourth, is the BJP corruption-free? Does Team Anna believe it to be so? Are the candidates going to benefit from its campaign clean men? Or does Team Anna believe that the system can be cleansed by helping unclean persons to win elections?

No More Jayprakash, Please

THE nation should really be thankful to Justice Santosh Hegde for his opposition to this ‘defeat the Congress’ campaign. But, votaries of Anna have started seeing a parallel between young Sharad Yadav’s win from Jabalpur and this election in Hisar. The nefarious tendencies are growing. Dangerous naivety is mounting.

Jayaprakash Narayan led an anti-Congress movement at a time when the Congress showed the darkest designs of asphyxiating the budding democracy of India. The Congress showed its demonic face again in 1984 when their leaders, with the indulgence of the then Prime Minister himself, killed thousands of Sikhs in Delhi and in other places. But, today’s Congress is not the same. It has changed. It is inept, and its Prime Minister is good for nothing. Manmohan Singh propagated such an ideology which in its crudest form became the ideology of greed. He has presided over many policy decisions that opened the doors for huge loots. He has presided over many policy decisions that killed the PSUs and other state initiatives (like PDS) only to help benefit private players. However, Manmohan is not communal. He has not demolished a mosque to become the Prime Minister.

Again, can anyone with honest intent and an insider’s knowledge claim that the BJP leaders are less corrupt than the Congress leaders? Both Manmohan Singh and Lal Krishna Advani are clean persons. But during the NDA regime, the BJP followed the same economic policies that Manmohan started as the Finance Minister. In fact, they wanted to show they were a better Rightist party. (I use the word Rightist only as an economic category.) Even if we accept that the BJP leaders on the average are cleaner than the Congress leaders, their link to the RSS makes them a fearful entity to our minorities and the secular population. A handful of their leaders has grown up in the Vajpayee school of attitude, but the overwhelming majority are Hindutvavadis.

Again, there is no Leftist in the BJP. But in the Congress there are Leftists who believe in direct intervention in the economy to save the lives of the poor. Hundred days work, right to forest and such other ideas have been transformed into laws thanks to Sonia Gandhi, and it is expected that her insistence will soon make food security a statutory obligation. Rahul Gandhi has played an important role in Niyamgiri and also in drafting the new Land Acquisition Bill.

For the BJP, or even for Mamhohan Singh or P. Chidambaram, Maoists are the gravest threat to India. But for well-meaning people of the nation the gravest threats are hunger, poverty and malnutrition. Maoists are there because poverty is there. Maoists are there because social injustice is there. In the Congress, there are people who have looked beyond the models of so-called ‘development’; in the BJP there is no one. And no Congress-ruled State has a similar notorious record comparable to Gujarat and Chhattisgarh.

If mindset is the criteria, today’s BJP is like what the Congress was three decades ago. Unfortunately, we have not heard anything significant till now against Raman Singh or Narendra Modi from Team Anna. That is fuelling speculations and Digvajay Singh is feeding on those.

If Team Anna wants to move India backward, they can go on trying to replace the Congress with the BJP. That will prove Digvijay Singh—who seemingly believes Anna is a front-man of the RSS—right. If they want to move India forward, they will have to work for generating a new force that will be better than the Congress.

Team Anna should know with great power comes greater responsibility. If they have not learned till now the motley social structure of our society, they should learn it now. They have great power, because their movement has inspired a huge number of people. If they use it to bring the BJP to power, it will go down in history as one of the greatest betrayals.

Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a journalist by profession and author of A Naxal Story. His e-mail address is dip10dra@yahoo.co.in

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