The Anna phenomenon

The Anna Hazare-government standoff in India is making news. The civil society’s anti-corruption movement has pitched the powers-that-be in an awkward position as whatever they differ on is merely on the basis of modus operandi.

While both Anna’s tribe and the government are on the same page in curbing the menace of corruption and graft practices in state business, politics seems to have been impeding their path for reconciliation. It is, however, strange and that too in a vibrant democracy like India that that the Lokpal bill, which was first tabled in 1968, is still lingering in the potholes of expediency. Certainly, vested interests are to be blamed for hanging on an issue that is primarily meant for social mobility by cracking down on fraudsters and those who misuse and pilferage their official position. Apparently, the question of who is to be brought in the net of law and prosecuted has created a mountain out of a mole. This is an unhealthy sign for a representative dispensation that takes prides in its constitutional supremacy and the verdict of the ballot.

The phenomenon that an anti-graft crusader, Anna, has found himself locked in the same premises wherein the movers and shakers of corrupt practices Koizumi and A Raja are languishing is a bad omen. The brinkmanship on the part of Congress to arrest him is set to cost it dearly, and has already erupted in a mass uprising against its tactics. The 74-year old activist may or may-not be playing to the gallery but he is campaigning a cause that is apolitical for the masses and is considered as a matter of do or die to reform and truly democratise the society. To what extent has Indian democracy matured for government-by-representation to be replaced by government-by-discussion is anybody’s guess, and this movement right in the heart of the capital will go a long to reshape its tricky realities.

Whether Anna leaves the jail to re-launch his fast or once again pins his hopes on government’s largesse is immaterial. What is important is the fact that this revulsion has stirred the pot and no political dispensation can ignore its salient features and demands. The Gandhi cult that many see in Anna’s sit-in and fast will be a litmus test for Congress as it puts its house in order in the spirit of soaring demands for across-the-board accountability. The onus is on the Congress to see the Lokpal sail across.

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