Today I’d like to address certain underlying themes of the government’s stance concerning the popular nation-wide movement of Shri Anna Hazare ji. Today’s theme is cynicism. Let me begin with the agit-prop, agent-provocateur argument. Many Congress spokesmen including the hon’ble prime minister himself (also Mr. Rashid Alvi but in an extremely disgusting fashion) have said something or the other alleging a foreign hand. Mr. Rashid Alvi went on to name the United States of America as ‘the’ foreign hand trying to destabilize the country. Firstly, am sorry to say that Mr. Prime Minister, this statement was a very naive, myopic view of the situation. The overall underlying theme is one of cynicism on the part of the government, and the ruling party that all these people who have gathered to protest at various places in all our cities and towns have been brought there by fooling them into believing that they’d actually get something out of this movement. If that’s the contention, then I must say that it’s true. We, the people of India including the youth of the nation, do sincerely believe that we can rid our nation of corruption. I agree that this is a foolish belief, a very foolish one at that. However, I must also say that any daunting task can be accomplished if there is will, and conviction. Was aspiring to put a man on the moon not foolish on part of the USA? Of course it was, but, only till they did it. Once they did it, it became an achievement, a triumph of human endeavour, and sparked the space race. However, this does not still answer the cynicism that these people were brought there by some third party promising them “whatever they promised them” in return. Prima facie, I have no defence to that charge other than what I have said above through analogies. I can’t prove that there were no third parties involved (to clarify, by third party I mean people or entities other than team Anna and the government of India), there were, there are, and millions of them. The third party Mr. Prime Minister is the general public of India. But in this case, the third parties are actually a party to the debate; whatever happens will affect them in absolute measure. So the support base of this movement is for everybody to see, and my contention is that if I (used to be a cynic till a few days ago, so I know the type) a simple literate person with nothing but my own small brain to guide me can see and get convinced that this is a people’s movement, then why can’t the educated, and highly competent members of the government? Surely Mr. prime minister, saying that this is the work of a foreign hand is an insult to your own personal dignity, authority, and more importantly intelligence. I will not devote anymore time to this foreign hand question as it apparently is a trick to discredit the movement, strip the people of India of their legitimate right to voice their opinion. Well, I am thankful that our constitution has given us this right, it’s not the government’s fief to award or withdraw.
On the question of cynicism in general – I’d like to ask the so called cynics who have no apparent links with the ruling party (certainly none they have agreed to) that why are you only cynical against Anna Hazare? Why not against the government? A cynic is defined by dictionaries to be a person who believes that everybody is motivated by self interest. I am a cynic, or at least I’d like to think so. So why play favorites and still call yourself a cynic? Shouldn’t you also think that the Congress party is working to safeguard its self interest? If your answer to the aforementioned question is no, then I will reserve my comments about your motives and your cynicism.
I have said quite a few things against the Congress party. This should not be construed as anti Congress or pro any other political party propaganda. I am not a member of any political party, or a supporter of any politician (definitely not BJP and RSS). So, having said that, lets consider this hypothetical scenario.
A month or two back, Mr. Digvijay Singh (another Congress spokesperson) says that Rahul baba’s time has come. Okay, perhaps it has Mr. Singh. Then we hear about how Rahul baba goes to U.P. to fight for the farmers’ cause; very good P.R. and it did have the desired effect. I was with Congress at this stage, and totally buying into the messiah image. Rahul Gandhi, the nation’s new saviour. I went to bed many nights with this very thought. So far so good. But then this Anna Hazare movement came about, and we heard less of Rahul baba. Few days pass, and we hear about the Congress-NCP led government’s crackdown on farmers agitating on and near the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Why shoot the farmers? They were anyway killing themselves. And, why this discord between the party and the government? On one hand a Congress led government in Maharashtra orders a lathicharge and shooting at (wouldn’t say innocent, cause nobody really is) farmers. At this point I must say that using force against an agitation or protest group ultimately has to be a political decision. They were not history sheeters or terrorists that police could shoot at sight, they were farmers damn it. So on one hand farmers are shot and killed (again very conveniently on camera) in a Congress run state, and on the other hand, a party general secretary (ohh.. I was entirely taken aback that it was Rahul baba, total surprise there) visits to condole their deaths? My question to the Congress party is very simple – why are they playing good cop, bad cop with the country?
And, the good cop, lo, and behold is none other than Rahul baba. This happened in Uttar Pradesh which was repeated in Maharashtra, and this is what happened with Anna Hazare (I’ll come to that point).In Uttar Pradesh it was even more convenient, at least they didn’t have to go through the trouble of shooting and killing a few farmers to create an incident of national political significance to justify Rahul baba’s intervention.
First, the broader issue. In my opinion, the way the Congress has handled this very elaborate, very carefully planned public relations campaign for projecting Rahul baba as the country’s most liked prime minister to be, and the one who should take the mantle from Dr. Singh must be applauded for its meticulous planning, and flawless execution. Now coming to the Anna Hazare point. The public has rallied behind Mr. Hazare, the Congress knows this. So what does the Congress do? It first abuses Hazare ji through various fora, fielding its spokesmen on television debates, holding press conferences etc. So first it enrages the public by being overtly against Mr. Hazare, so much so that they launch a personal attack on him. Then a couple of days pass, the movement builds up. This is in my opinion what the Congress was waiting for. It discredits the movement and its leader on one hand, and then makes the announcement that Rahul baba wants Anna to be respected by the party. This very clearly, is an attempt by the senior Congress leadership, and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi’s political advisers to create a public difference of opinion between the party and Mr. Manmohan Singh’s government. Why is this public difference of opinion required? It is required because, the public mood is against the government, there is a general lack of trust in the government’s actions. So, the self perpetuating rule of the self proclaimed arbiters of India’s destiny comes under threat. Distancing the party and the top leadership is the only step they can take. I will not be surprised if in a few days from now, Rahul baba extends an olive branch to Anna Hazare ji, and seeks his blessings on camera. What could be better after all, than a Gandhi seeking the blessings (and thereby political legitimacy) from a Gandhian?