Mr. Anna Hazare and his Team members are facing a crisis of their own making. No amount of whistling in the dark and issuing defiant criticism of individual political leaders can hide this fact. There is a difference of approach between Mr. Hazare and his Team members. The former needs Baba Ramdev to provide numbers. The latter resent the Yoga teacher for being too close to Saffron elements. Baba Ramdev is cannily trying to widen the rift between them by issuing statements praising Anna and obliquely criticizing his Team members. Clearly, he thinks it advantageous to appropriate Mr. Anna Hazare for his brand value. And that is what brings one to the weaknesses of this entire anti-corruption movement.
All the participants in the current movement against corruption and black money deserve praise for their good intentions. But even the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Not all the corporate, NGO and big media support extended to the movement can obscure the fact that arousing public opinion is less than half the battle. The clear vision about what needs to be done to eradicate corruption and restore governance is irreplaceable. And all the protagonists of the movement got focused on small micro remedies to confront a macro crisis of gigantic proportions.
India’s political system is crumbling. To prevent that neither the establishment of a Lokpal nor a credible effort to reclaim black money stashed abroad will suffice. The basic cause of the crisis needs to be understood. The architecture of governance has to be appreciated. The overall agenda for reform has to be formulated. The political instrument for implementing it has to be created. Team Anna and Baba Ramdev have touched only the fringes of the crisis. They grapple with some symptoms without diagnosing the disease.
At the start of the movement it was pointed out that the genuine remedy lay in creating a new national alternative party that could replace the existing class of politicians and the prevalent political culture in order to seize electoral power and deliver reform through governance. Instead Team Anna members were at pains to stress that they would always shun entry into direct politics. Now the tune has changed. Mr. Hazare claims he will identify and campaign for suitable candidates in the next general election. Mr. Kejriwal has not only admitted that a new alternative needs to be formed but has gone on to state that the next election must become a “revolution” for change. But in tangible terms they are stuck with the pitifully inadequate Lokpal demand which they are committed to repeatedly reiterate. It has become like an albatross around the Team’s neck not allowing it to widen its reach and vision. They can silently lament about the Lokpal demand much like the Ancient Mariner in the memorable lines of Coleridge:
“Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.”
Devoid of any substantive remedy and confined to the Lokpal Bill, Team Anna is reduced to accusing individual politicians of corruption as a quick and easy way to remain in the limelight. Alas, in this too the endeavor appears to be hollow. On what basis are an odd dozen leaders chosen as targets when over a hundred could be named? Does this indicate a political agenda on somebody’s behalf? It is curious that even as speculation is hot about Mr. Rahul Gandhi soon accepting a major political role in government, Team Anna members selected the residences of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr. Sharad Pawar for anti-corruption demonstrations. Readers might recall the query I raised in these columns on June 4, 2012 to the Anna Hazare Team.
I wrote: “Team Anna can name the PM and 13 ministers. But its deafening silence about another individual is becoming more conspicuous every day…It is universally accepted that the most powerful politician in the UPA is Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. According to popular belief the PM cannot move an inch without her blessing. How odd, then, that Team Anna can wax eloquent about all ministers and the PM but not one Team member even once has dared utter the name of Mrs. Gandhi…In this charade about the fight against corruption the opposition in fact may be just a bit player. It is entirely possible that the real subterranean struggle is between factions within the Congress. Arvind Kejriwal quite understandably demands investigation by an independent agency to probe alleged corruption of cabinet ministers including the PM. Admittedly Mrs. Gandhi is not in the cabinet. But is her power and share of decision making in doubt? And does not the fact that Switzerland’s most influential journal categorically stated that a Swiss bank account of over 2 billion US dollars in the name of Rajiv Gandhi existed, the fact that a former official KGB Commission member Yevgenia Albats has written in her doctoral research book that the KGB funded Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the fact that an official spokesperson of the Russian government acknowledged to media that such funds were indeed paid by the Soviet government to Mrs. Gandhi in order to protect its foreign policy, merit in the view of Kejriwal an investigation by a credible agency…Let Team Anna demand an investigation of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi in the same manner as it does of 14 cabinet ministers. It is an easy litmus test. Will Team Anna take it?”
Team Anna of course did no such thing.