Negotiations between the government and members of Team Hazare seemed to be proceeding towards a settlement. But late last evening Ms. Kiran Bedi, Mr. Kejriwal and Mr. Prashant Bhushan conferred with Mr. Pranab Mukherjee. According to press reports the trio emerged from the meeting ashen-faced. They told reporters that the government had taken a complete U-turn to renege from earlier commitments and adopt an extra hard line. Political observers were flummoxed by the government’s volte face. They could not explain why the government took such a drastic turnaround.
I have a simple explanation. I cannot say whether Mr. Mukherjee brought up the subject with the Team Hazare trio or not. But I am reasonably certain that the government’s change of heart occurred because of what Mr. Hazare spoke from the Ramlila Maidan a few hours before the trio met the Finance Minister. Mr. Hazare in a brief speech pointed to his forehead and said that a he survived a Pakistani bullet there in the 1965 war. He went on to say that nevertheless he continued his fight against the enemies across the border. He then added that today there are “enemies and traitors” hidden within India against whom he is presently fighting. He concluded by saying that he would continue his fight against these traitors with the same zeal with which he fought the Pakistanis.
The reference was too clear to be missed by anyone. If the government with which he is negotiating is described as an enemy and traitor, the insult was simply too severe to be stomached by even this thick skinned government. That nothing succeeds like excess may be true while galvanizing public support. It does not necessarily work during negotiations. Therefore there was a breakdown in the talks. Therefore it is back to square one.