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View: The Ayatollah in waiting

August 25, 2011 18:04 IST

Like the Iranian religious supremo, Anna Hazare demands supreme power and he dreams that with the present dysfunctional government, he could wield power from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and everybody would just obey his fiats, says veteran commentator Govind Talwalkar.

It is a misnomer and an insult to call Anna Hazare the second Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent movement against the British government had several critics. Some of his political opponents such as the Communist leader, M N Roy, and even some Socialists, who were for quite some time with the Congress, used very harsh words against him. The Communists characterised his methods as reactionary, while Roy said that Gandhi represented nothing but the ignorance and superstitions of India.

When Jayaprakash Narayan was all for a fight with the British and was against any talks with that government, he was furious because Gandhiji gave priority to a dialogue. JP went to the extreme by writing that Gandhi's policy was just like that of Chiang Kai-shek.

Nevertheless, Gandhiji always kept his calm and even though he disagreed with many of his critics, he was courteous and persuasive. He did not call them traitors. He would tell the leftists that he was also a Socialist but could not run so fast like them on the path to this goal.

Gandhiji was the most popular leader; but he did not endeavour to dominate or avoid any discussions with those holding opposite views.

When he visited Ratnagiri in the Konkan area of Maharashtra, he held talks with V D Savarkar, whom he used to address as Veer, a courageous fighter. Gandhi suggested to Savarkar that though they had differences, they could cooperate in the task of abolishing untouchability.

In contrast, Hazare thinks that he is the only person who has all the answers to all the questions; moreover, he is the only honest person. Because of this moral superiority complex, he has even labelled all those in power since Independence as traitors.

Of course, he did not decline the Padma awards from the people in power nor has he ever hesitated to take police protection. Gandhiji was always ready to find a compromise solution and did his best to reach one. Anna, on the contrary, lays down the terms; and commands that they be followed and then keeps adding new terms.

It is his way or the highway.

This is not the attitude of the Mahatma, but that of the Ayatollah. Like the Iranian religious supremo, Anna demands supreme power and he dreams that with the present dysfunctional government, he could wield power from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and everybody would just obey his fiats.

This is fascist tendency and may have roots in his career in the army. In India, when chaotic conditions prevail, a large section of the middle class prays for military dictatorship. In the Second World War, Hitler had several admirers from this class. That is why the authoritarian Anna may be satisfying their craving.

No wonder the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has openly come out in support of this Ayatollah in waiting. He promises to bring in a pure and benevolent democracy, but his fascist attitude would be a deterrent.

His unlimited ambition is to take control of the whole government machinery, right from the prime minister and judiciary down to the village-level employee. The Jan Lokpal from top to bottom would be selected by Anna and his revolutionary guards.

Thus, instead of drastically reducing the rigid bureaucracy, India would have a gigantic parallel bureaucracy. And who would guarantee that this new army proclaiming moral re-armament would make corruption in the country a thing of the past?

Gandhiji had a gift for selecting individuals of talent, integrity and competence who could make their mark. Because of his novel political technique, dedication and mild nature, he was able to attract from all over the country several outstanding personalities such as Motilal and Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajaji, Dr Rajendra Prasad, the Bose brothers, Maulana Azad, and also several young people.

They had their differences. Some left the Congress. However, most of them did not waver from the ultimate goal. Many of them served several years in jail. People like Nehru, Sardar Patel, Rajaji, Rajendra Prasad etc had their own personalities; and after Gandhiji they laid the foundation of this great Indian democracy, which the coming Ayatollah and his revolutionary guards are doing everything in their power to bring down totally.

Our political parties are playing their usual games. It is not clear whether the Bharatiya Janata Party supports Anna's demands. But it has taken full advantage to make political capital. Forgetting the Tehelka incident and the recent Karnataka scandal, it is vociferous against the Congress's corruption.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist is not expected to lead the ministry at the Centre in the near future. So it can go along with Anna. But, then, why did it not move an amendment to the Lokpal resolution?

Shanti Bhushan was some time ago a law minister. Why did he not do anything to usher in a new era then? Even while enjoying his lucrative law practice, he could have launched an anti-corruption movement. He and Kejriwal seem to require moral support from Anna Hazare.

According to Arundhati Roy, Kejriwal is reported to have monetary support from the Ford Foundation. The so-called new Gandhi preaches Swadeshi, but does not mind this ardent supporter receiving money from a foreign organisation. But all these contradictions are not taken notice of.

The rules applying to ordinary mortals are not applicable to the Ayatollah.

Baba Ramdev has numerous enterprises which are now under scrutiny. Anna did not take any objection to him.

It is beyond doubt that the government has mismanaged and prepared the ground, but Anna and his team have proved to be like the Ayatollah and the revolutionary guards in the making, with student puppets.

Govind Talwalkar is the former chief editor of the Maharashtra Times and author of several books on history, politics and literature.

Govind Talwalkar